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Plans for Kemsley Mill

St Regis Paper Mill, Kemsley, Sittingbourne
St Regis Paper Mill, Kemsley, Sittingbourne

by Nick Evans

Thousands of households have received letters outlining a proposed scheme to build a waste-burning electricity plant at Kemsley paper mill.

Owner St Regis Paper wants to establish what effect such a plant would have on the town and surrounding villages before it prepares any environmental impact assessment as part of a future planning application.

Some 14,000 letters have gone out in an area extending from Bobbing to Tonge and from the A2 to the Sheppey Crossing, inviting residents to a two-day exhibition in Kemsley next month.

At the same time, the company is asking Kent County Council for the go ahead to carry out preliminary environmental studies – known as a scoping opinion – ahead of seeking planning permission to build the plant.

A St Regis’ spokesman pointed out the plant would generate electricity for the mill by burning only pre-sorted and treated waste which would otherwise have gone to landfill sites.

He said: “Any recyclable materials will have already been removed. The rest would be brought to Kemsley in sealed containers and unloaded into a large hall where it will be burnt.

“The process will generate not just electricity for the mill but also steam which is used extensively in the paper making process.

“We expect the early study to take several months to complete and we want to hear the views of people from all over the area.”

The site is already home to a gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant as well as a smaller energy plant that produces steam from waste products arising from the paper mill’s operations.

If the plant does eventually get the go ahead, it will be located on a brownfield plot within the mill boundaries on a former coal yard.

That spot makes it accessible for road, rail and barge transport to bring waste materials to the site.

The exhibition will be held at Kemsley village hall on Thursday July 2 from 3pm-8.30pm and Friday July 3 from 10am-5pm when visitors can meet members of the project team to ask questions. Alternatively, visit the website http://www.kemsleyenergy.co.uk/

For more, see this week's Sittingbourne Messenger

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