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Bid to save Burnley museum's unique steam-powered mill
URGENT steps are now being taken to safeguard the future of the world’s last remaining steam-powered mill in Burnley after council bosses discovered it is illegally belching out fumes into the atmosphere.
The Lancashire Boiler at the Queen Street Mill, a working museum which is dedicated to the town’s illustrious industrial past, has provided a headache for town hall lawyers.
Under existing environmental legislation, the boiler, which has been designated by English Heritage as an Ancient Monument, did have special permission to burn traditional ‘smoke-emitting’ fuels.
But the original mechanical stoker, which has served the furnace, has now fallen into disrepair. It is now fired by hand, which means the original permission is no longer valid.
Council solicitors have now drafted a new smoke control order, covering the replacement stoker, which should allow the mill museum to carry on.
Environment official Karen Davies said: “The Lancashire Boiler at Queen Street Mill is not an exempt fireplace within regulations, because the mechanical stoker that originally fed the boiler, and would have exempted it, has fallen into disrepair and cannot be replaced.
“The boiler cannot burn authorised smoke-less fuel because the boiler relies on a flame to distribute heat through the boiler and raise steam. Smokeless fuels do not produce a flame.
“This plant, which is of considerable historic and cultural significance, relies on burning unauthorised fuel, and is therefore operating in breach of the order.”
Museum bosses do try to use fuels which emit the least smoke, coun-cillors have been told. County council chiefs, who operate the mill, have signalled that they are content with Burnley Council’s proposed solutions, says a report to the borough’s exec-utive, which meets next week.
The proposed smoke control order must be advertised for 28 days so residents in Harle Syke can register their views.