Anger mounts as £3.9m school move ploughs ahead despite incinerator challenge

Southfield school at New Barnfield

Southfield school at New Barnfield - Credit: Archant

FURIOUS anti-incinerator campaigners say they are “astonished” that £3.9million plans to relocate a special school are still going ahead.

Southfield School is being forced to relocate from its Travellers Lane building to a site on Howe Dell School’s former playing fields in September while the incinerator is built.

But two weeks ago the Government announced that a public inquiry would decide whether to approve the waste burner – sparking hopes the project may be scrapped.

Despite this, relocation work is still going ahead with drains and mobile classrooms expected to be installed over the coming week.

A protest will take place this weekend to campaign against the continuing building work.

The gathering will be outside the site – opposite the exit of Bishop’s Hatfield Girl’s School – at 3.30pm on Saturday.

Cathy Roe, secretary of action group Hatfield Against Incineration (HAI) said: “We are astonished the county council is thinking of moving the children before the proposed incinerator has gained planning permission, as they would then need to move back again if planning permission is not granted.

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“There would be tremendous anxiety created by this unnecessary double move.”

Under approved plans, the school will move from New Barnfield for five years.

Borough councillor Kieran Thorpe said plans for the temporary school should be stopped.

He told the WHT: “The claim that this is being done in the interest of the children is simply offensive.

“It is well documented that these children respond best to a sustained routine, relocating them to a temporary site is going be very harmful.

“This move should be immediately halted until the outcome of the incinerator inquiry.”

A county council spokesman said: “Children attending Southfield School have complex needs and are more likely to be affected by noise and disruption.

“After discussions with the school governors, the decision was taken to relocate the school so that it is not affected by the construction of the proposed waste facility and to allow for a planned and controlled move to limit the disruption to the school and pupils.

“The decision was made to move the school at the end of this academic year, whether or not planning permission has been granted for the waste facility, so that the children and parents don’t have to suffer the uncertainty or anxiety, during what could still be a long planning process, of not knowing if and when the school would move.”