A LAST-ditch bid to defer a decision on a £300million state-of-the-art energy recovery centre to turn black bin bags and their contents into energy was defeated.

A report went before Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning and highways committee recommending approval for plans to build the SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK centre at its existing waste transfer site in Lower Eccleshill Road, Darwen.

It is hoped the scheme will help create 50 new jobs.

But Conservative and Lib Dem group members expressed concerns about increased traffic on what they say is an already-congested road network.

Particular concern was raised about queuing traffic coming off junction four of the M65, as well as the Lower Eccleshill Road junction with Hollins Grove Street and Goose House Lane.

Calls were made for investigatory work into whether, rather than using lorries to deliver waste to the site, the railways could be used.

But Labour group members voted them down and permission was granted for the scheme.

Senior planning manager for SUEZ, Kris Furness, said: “We are committed to improving the junction and these are improvements that will attract more development to the area.

“In 2017-18, more than 330,000 tonnes of waste from Blackburn with Darwen was sent to landfill and another 60,000 tonnes was incinerated without energy recovery.”

Cllr John Pearson said: “I am absolutely amazed that a couple of weeks ago, this council heard a motion about climate emergency and now we are contemplating an extra 1,500 HGV trips per week if this is approved.

“1,500 HGVs per week is about two to three trains and I am amazed because this site has an existing railway right nearby but nowhere in this report does it suggest anyone has looked at that as a solution.”

Cllr Jane Oates said: “I can see your point about the trains but you would struggle to get between Blackburn and Manchester.

“The rail system in this area is deplorable and we are always groaning about it so I don’t think your solution is going to work."

Borough growth and development manager, Cllr Phil Riley, added: “It is a proposal that brings £300 million into the economy, hundreds of construction jobs, another 50 long term jobs and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste currently going to landfill will generate enough electricity to power 60,000 homes.

“Clearly there will be an increase in the number of journeys but we are talking about a small number and in the wider perspective, the economic and environmental benefits of this development far outweigh any possible downsides."

Liberal Democrat Cllr Roy Davies and Conservative Cllr Julie Slater previously gave the scheme a qualified welcome but expressed fears over the safety and traffic flow on nearby roads from dozens of extra heavy goods vehicles going to and from the new plant.

The new plant, which incinerates the non-recyclable rubbish and turns it into steam and electricity, would process 500,000 tonnes of waste each year, equivalent to more than 70m black bin bags.

The waste would otherwise go to landfill at SUEZ’s Whinney Hill tip in Altham.

Paul Wormald, of RPS Consulting on behalf of SUEZ, said: “In addition to the benefits associated with sustainable waste management and the generation of renewable energy, it would also provide the direct creation of approximately 50 full time equivalent jobs and indirect creation of additional jobs to the benefit of the local economy.

“The facility and its potential to provide a direct supply of electrical and heat energy can also support existing and act as a stimulus to attract new industrial and employment activities on surrounding vacant industrial land.”