NORTHWICH ward councillors have slammed Brunner Mond’s collection of dossiers detailing their comments on its proposed energy from waste plant, as ‘high-handed’, ‘arrogant’ and ‘clandestine’.

Clr George Miller and Clr Mark Stocks, who represent Northwich East and Shakerley, were left reeling after being told that the soda ash company – which has submitted a planning application for a sustainable energy plant in Lostock Gralam – had put together a portfolio of their press quotes, voting records and telephone calls.

The application is due to be heard by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWAC) strategic planning committee (SPC) in February.

The councillors said they had previously declared their opposition to incineration and made clear that they would not be sitting on the SPC when it discussed waste issues in the locality.

Clr Stocks said that members of the planning committee and the applicant were under obligation to follow strict protocol, and described the applicants’ dossiers as ‘underhand’.

They suggested that the reasoning behind the dossiers was perhaps to influence the planning process and ensure the views expressed by committee members were to their liking.

“We clearly identified our position in June last year to do with the waste issues in the locality,” said Clr Stocks.

“We told the lady who deals with the administration of the SPC, and she was aware that neither George or I would be standing on the committee and reserves would be arranged.

“The leadership were also aware.

“It is completely unacceptable to be getting information in a clandestine manner and to report it back.

“We were both very annoyed at the way in which Brunner Mond has compiled this dossier against the members who have clearly indicated what their position was on the matter, to try to ensure the views are to their liking.

“It is somewhat underhand to be going round compiling dossiers and presenting it behind our backs – they didn’t approach me.”

Clr Miller added: “Our position was quite clear when we both stood for election.

“In our election literature we were opposed to incinerators – that was out there in the public domain.

“I have been absolutely up front.”

Clr Miller and Clr Stocks said that their decision to step down from the committee on issues of waste was due to a desire to act in the best interests of their constituents.

“It is unacceptable for Brunner Mond to try to browbeat councillors into submission,” added Clr Stocks.

Fraser Ramsay, sustainable energy plant business development executive at Brunner Mond, said: “I am very surprised councillors have approached the Guardian on this matter.

“In the course of our application we have gathered views and concerns of councillors with regards to the application. It is all publicly available information.”

Mr Ramsay added that although Brunner Mond could not attend a public forum in December, representatives were present.

“We were advised that if we did have concerns to provide the information and that’s what we did earlier this month,” he said.

“All we want is due process and fair consideration without predetermination, before it goes to the strategic planning committee.

“We do not believe there is anything underhand – all we wanted to make sure was due process and fair consideration was given.

“We just wanted to raise concerns and we weren’t questioning the councillors’ integrity in any way.”

He added that he was not aware Clrs Stocks and Miller were not going to sit on the committee.

“Certainly from the information we have seen there is nothing to suggest that – if there was information we wouldn’t have raised concerns with the council,” he added.