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Firm accused of fighting dirty

CAMPAIGNERS have accused a company of underhand tactics in its controversial gas plant bid.

CAMPAIGNERS have accused a company of underhand tactics in its controversial gas plant bid.

They claim Ineos Chlor, a partner with ScottishPower in the £60 million Byley project, has coerced employees into backing the project by asking them to write to County Hall at Chester.

The objectors claim the gas processing plant will be a potential health hazard and could lead to acid rain in Sandbach, Holmes Chapel and Middlewich.

In an internal e-mail leaked to the Chronicle, Ineos Chlor asks its workers to send letters of support to the county council.

The e-mail encourages people to use a specially drafted letter and send it from their home address to the chief planning officer at Cheshire County Council.

There are also instructions to the employee to indicate whether or not they intend to write and protesters fighting the plans say the 'bullying tactic' is evidence the power giant is fearful of losing.

Spokesman for RAP ­ Residents Against the Plant ­ Dr John Edwards, said: 'Ineos Chlor has shot itself in the foot by attempting to lever its employees into sending letters supporting the gas plant, and sending them from their home addresses as if they were impartial, rather than employees whose company would profit vastly from the gas plant.

'Since the number of genuine letters opposing the gas plant must be nearing 7,000 and growing fast, by getting their employees to write supporting letters, Ineos Chlor is trying to overturn the manifestly declared will of the entire community.'

Another of the objectors, Dr Jamie Atherton said: 'This is typical of the murky spin we've come to expect from the gas plant twins. They're frightened now and they should be.'

But a statement on behalf of ScottishPower and Ineos Chlor said: 'A memo was circulated to North West based employees for the purpose of informing them of the importance of the project to our business and asking them to write in support if they felt it appropriate.

'No employee has been pressured into writing. We have measured the number of employees who have indicated that they intended to write so we can estimate the success of the campaign.'

A spokesman added: 'A template letter was drafted which gave employees some key points they may wish to use in their letter. The first line very clearly identifies these people as employees of Ineos Chlor.

'A significant proportion of these employees are also residents of Cheshire. Many employees have written of their own accord in support of the project.'

Cheshire County Council will decide the fate of the £60m plan on October 23. Protesters will present their case before members a week ahead of the planning decision, on October 16.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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