A FORECASTED 3,500 jobs could be created in Middlewich if the eastern bypass is completed, according to research by incinerator firm Covanta.

Bosses from the company that wants to build an ‘energy-from waste’ plant in Midpoint 18 business park say the bypass would prompt a ‘substantial investment’ in the town.

“Similar results have been achieved next to other Covanta energy-from-waste facilities,” said Covanta’s managing director Malcolm Chilton.

“In the US for example, schools and high quality housing have been developed alongside Covanta facilities.”

But campaigners from Cheshire Anti-incinerator Network (CHAIN) have accused Covanta of being ‘deceptive’.

Liam Byrne, of CHAIN, added: “We all want more employment in Middlewich, of course, but common sense dictates that huge toxin emitting rubbish burning incinerators drive existing employers away and deter new ones moving in.”

As reported in the Guardian, Covanta has promised £2.5million to link Pochin Way with Booth Lane and Midpoint 18 if its plans in Middlewich go ahead.

The completion of the eastern bypass has been an aspiration for Middlewich for about 15 years and is already two-thirds built.

Covanta’s gesture has been met with a mixed response from the community with some welcoming the news and others describing it as a ‘bribe’.

Mr Byrne said: “The ‘bribe’ offered by Covanta to pay for what amounts to about 20 per cent of the cost of a bypass is nothing more than a cynical ploy to tempt Cheshire East Council to ignore its responsibilities and the expressed wishes of the people of Middlewich.

“Their case for building it which they have put forward until now has been totally discredited and they are scrabbling around for a last resort.

“In their arrogance, Covanta clearly hopes that the core reasons for opposing their insane plan will be forgotten in the rush to grasp their 'thirty pieces of silver'.”

Brian Reay, property director at Pochins, reckons the completion of the bypass will unlock the potential of 43 hectares of development land at Midpoint 18, which already has planning permission.

He added: “The provision of the bypass is of huge strategic importance and, given the current economic climate, without this commitment from Pochins and Covanta and the public sector, the bypass may otherwise not see the light of day for many more years to come.

“Well over 2,000 jobs have been brought to Middlewich through the success of the existing phases of Midpoint 18.

“Providing the bypass and enabling Midpoint 18 to be completed will position Middlewich in the best possible light to attract further investment and job creation in the short, medium and long term.”

But Mr Byrne said: “Yet again they have underestimated the intelligence and sense of communal responsibility of the people of Middlewich and, indeed, of Cheshire.

“They conveniently forget that more than 60 per cent of the local adult population have signed the CHAIN petition opposing their scheme on the grounds of risks to public health, damage to the environment and the sheer stupidity of its location.

“They also ignore the important fact that more than 2500 formal planning objections have already been lodged.”