'Time-bomb' town planned for Thames refinery

 作者:岑曛箬     |      日期:2019-02-26 03:13:12
Mobil, the oil giant, called this week for a block on plans to build a ‘mini new town’ close to its Coryton refinery complex in southeast England. The plant, at Canvey Island on the north side of the Thames estuary, produces 10 per cent of Britain’s refinery products. It would be the biggest development near a hazardous plant in Britain for years. The company’s call to ditch the scheme came during the fourth week of a public hearing into proposals by Aldersgate Developments to build more than 4,000 new houses, a business park, three schools and a shopping centre on land north of the refinery. The project, called Northwick Village, is the brainchild of Peter de Savary, the yachting entrepreneur. The Health and Safety Executive, the government’s independent safety adviser, has reservations about building close to a refinery that stores so much flammable material. The HSE has told the developers to alter their plans to widen the buffer zone between the refinery and the homes. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution is also against the scheme, because there are already pollution problems in the form of smells from the works. Peter Waite, the engineer responsible for assessing the safety of the scheme for Mobil’s consultants Cremer and Warner, warns that the proposed development ‘would involve a significant increase in the number of people in the vicinity of the refinery’. The planned development is much larger than any around comparable installations in the country. Waite recommends that the development should ‘not proceed in its present form’. The government ordered a public inquiry into the proposed ‘village’ because part of the site is on greenbelt land, and theoretically out of bounds to developers. The choice of the site on low-lying land on the western side of Canvey Island has raised other issues. Not only is it bounded on one side by the refinery complex, it is also close to Britain’s largest toxic waste dump. Preliminary investigations of the land earmarked for development revealed high concentrations of heavy metals, including cadmium and arsenic. A high pressure pipeline carrying liquid petroleum gas crosses the proposed site and there is a disused refuse tip generating methane gas. A spokesman for de Savary has described the location picked for Northwick Village as ‘unique’. In return for permission to go ahead with the scheme,