A protest has taken place in Redcar over plans for the UK’s first Hydrogen village.
Residents claim they have not been properly consulted and around two hundred people held a protest in Redcar town centre.
Karl Conway helped to organise it, and said: “We’re really concerned we are being used as guinea pigs for a national trial and we haven’t been given any choice in this.”
Under the plans announced by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) – the gas distributor for the North of England, the current gas supply would be switched to locally produced hydrogen, which would be made from renewable sources, in Redcar town centre, Warrenby, Coatham, and parts of Kirkleatham.
Currently using gas creates around a quarter of the country's carbon emissions. This scheme is part of The Government's efforts to achieve net zero carbon emission by 2050.
Redcar was chosen as the area for the hydrogen village due to its close links to existing energy infrastructure, including hydrogen and production storage facilities.
Protestors have called for a vote on the plans.
Dawn Campbell was at the protest with her grandchildren and said she was concerned what it would mean for her future as she owns two properties that could be in the hydrogen village.
She said: “I'm really concerned about how this would affect them, would affect my tenants, their safety, their ability to pay for heating. What does that do to the value of my investment?”
Steve Rudd was also at the protest and said the plans had caused him sleepless nights.
“We’ve had a year on this. We are rightly concerned that we're being used as crash test dummies and that's the best I can say.
"We don't want it. We'll never want it and I'll fight them on the doorstep," he said.
An NGN spokesperson said:“We entirely understand that there may be concerns about the move to hydrogen and electricity for around 2,000 homes and businesses in Redcar.
"Our door is always open, and we continue to actively encourage anyone with questions or reservations to come and speak to us at our ‘Hydrogen Hub’ on the High Street.
“Ensuring people feel comfortable with the changes suggested is a priority, and we have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to engage with and reassure residents and businesses, through drop-in sessions, door-knocking and a public meeting.
In response to todays protest a Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “No decision on the trial has yet been made and we have always said community support would be at the centre of any decision.”
“Before any trials go ahead, the Health and Safety Executive will need to be satisfied it will run safely and we have committed to ensuring consumers are protected before, during and after any trial. A decision on whether to proceed will be made later this year.”
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