Two campaigns have joined forces in Irvine to give a platform to their grievances.

Irvine Trades Council, which has formed the Irvine Against Incinerators group to protest against plans for an energy recovery plant at Oldhall, linked up with the Irvine Seniors Forum, who have concerns about the new National Care Service, to organise a stall at Bridgegate.

Arthur West, who represents both groups, said: “We thought it would be a good idea for us to come together and had a couple of hundred people along to talk to us."

Addressing the Odhall waste-to-energy incinerator, on which construction is well under way after planning permission was granted three years ago, Mr West said: "We are not sure there has been enough consultation on this plant.

“SEPA [the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency] still have to grant the plant an operating licence so we are focusing on getting as many people as possible to write to them saying they have concerns about it.

"The plant is not due until 2025 and they need the licence to be able to go ahead.”

Rebecca Glen, co-convenor of the Scottish Greens' Ayrshire branch, said: “The Scottish Government introduced a moratorium on incineration, and the fact they are proceeding with it regardless is a nonsense, given the climate emergency and  the effects it will have on agriculture and people’s health. 

“It will impact people with respiratory conditions. This went very quietly through in the pandemic while people had their minds on other things. 

“This kind of plant in other areas has not done anything for energy bills. Burning waste and micro plastics is not helpful. 

“Surveys have shown places like this cause problems with chicken’s eggs and the soil is polluted by toxins. It creates jobs but should not come at the expense of having a habitable environment.”

The Trades Council will stage a protest against the plant at North Ayrshire Council's Cunninghame House HQ in the town next Wednesday, April 26, at 12 noon.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “The development of the energy recovery facility was approved by the council’s planning committee in 2020 and was subject to detailed consultation with SEPA, who have the responsibility for regulating all pollution control measures, including air quality, at facilities of this kind.  

“Great care has been taken throughout the process to examine any environmental impact.

“Planning applications are subject to statutory publicity and consultation procedures. These are laid out in regulations which are set by Scottish ministers.  

“The consultation process, including statutory pre-application consultation, for the development at Oldhall was undertaken in full compliance with the relevant regulations.”

Irvine Times: Tristan Lindsay of the Seniors Forum

Meanwhile, Irvine Seniors’ Forum member Tristan Lindsay wants the planned new National Care Service to be effective.

He said: “This was the brainchild of the new First Minister, but it was not thought through. It must be free at the point of service. 

"No special money has been set aside. A think tank and focus groups must come up with something better.

"We need accountability.”

Scottish Government social care minister Maree Todd said: “We remain committed to delivering a National Care Service that ensures consistent, high quality social care support and community health care that meets peoples’ needs.

“It is crucial that we build a National Care Service that best meets the needs of the people it will serve, which is why I am committed to doing all we can so that those with experience of social care support and community healthcare have sufficient chance to share their views.

“Over the summer, we will reach out to people and keep them at the heart of what will be the single biggest public sector reform since the creation of the NHS.”