Chemical plant plan sparks traffic worry

PUBLISHED: 16:07 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 18:00 31 May 2010

The plant in Duxford at the centre of controversy Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The plant in Duxford at the centre of controversy Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

HUNDREDS of tonnes of the toxic chemical acrylonitrile will be stored in a plant in Duxford, if a planning application gets the go-ahead. Hexcel, an American company that specialises in the manufacture of carbon-fibre and reinforced plastics, is hoping to

HUNDREDS of tonnes of the toxic chemical acrylonitrile will be stored in a plant in Duxford, if a planning application gets the go-ahead.

Hexcel, an American company that specialises in the manufacture of carbon-fibre and reinforced plastics, is hoping to construct a carbon-fibre precursor plant and storage facilities for a large quantity of a chemical essential in the production process.

Officers at South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) were due to make a decision on the application after the Reporter had gone to press yesterday afternoon (Wednesday). Officers had recommended the application be approved.

However, the council received objections and statements of

concern from a wide range of interested parties, including

several parish councils, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Duxford Primary School and Cambridge Trout Club.

Jane Charter, clerk of Hinxton Parish Council, revealed the parish council was unhappy about the application's breaches of district planning policies.

She said: "The proposed development is situated on land specifically designated for 'non-employment' use. Therefore if the application is approved, it will be a serious deviation from SCDC planning policies and set a precedent for further industrial applications in the area.

"The chemical, acrylonitrile, will be produced in the northeast of England and driven down by tankers, twice a day, seven days a week. It would make more sense to locate this plant closer to where the chemical is actually manufactured."

Mrs Chater was due to present a petition against the proposal signed by 90 per cent of Hinxton's householders at yesterday's SCDC planning meeting.

However, Duxford's Parish Council clerk, Mike Parker, said that most of Hinxton's objections amounted to scaremongering and that Duxford Parish Council's only concern with the application related to an increase in traffic in the village while the plant was being constructed.

"The parish council support the application in principal," he said, "our only concern is trying to mitigate the effect of traffic through the village during the plant's construction.

"The council decided it wasn't qualified to comment on the chemistry side of things, and to wait for a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) before considering objecting on those grounds."

When the HSE did report back, it informed SCDC that it "does not advise, on safety grounds, against the granting of planning permission".

Hexcel currently employs 460 people at its plant on the south side of Duxford, and predicted it would take on a further 100 staff if its application was granted.

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