The problem of smoke from Bexhill High Academy will not be solved by making the chimney higher according to angry residents in nearby streets.
A group of them met on Monday to air grievances about pollution ahead of objecting to Bexhill High’s forthcoming planning application - they are urging for the biomass boiler to be removed altogether.
They claim biomass boilers emit noxious gases and fine ash “dangerous to everybody’s health” and say raising the flues by six metres will not help.
Bob Holland, of Glenleigh Park Road, told the Observer he and other neighbours have suffered four years of pollution.
He claimed smoke comes inside his property “all the time” and added: “Whether the chimney is higher or not the biomass boiler should not be there. It’s causing problems for residents and the school.”
He commented: “We have been told over this four years that it was safe, that it was doing its job, and it was not causing any problems. So I am asking the question - if it was really doing its job, why are they changing it? Why? They told us over four years it has been okay - but we know it has not been. And the school itself knows it has not been.”
Neighbour Rosemary Roberts said she and others had to keep windows shut and could not stay outside in gardens when smoke is present.
The group is disappointed not to have more support from MP Greg Barker, and say as Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change he admitted that biomass is dangerous for the population, but has told them this week there was nothing he could do.
Bexhill High’s Andy Mortimer confirmed the application which is due to be heard and said: “We have submitted plans to re-mediate the problem following detailed professional advice and we await the outcome of the due planning process.”
The initial height of the chimney was agreed by East Sussex County Council but was reduced for fear of complaints from neighbours, according to Karen Cooke, of GMB Union, who has highlighted the problem of smoke and its impact on the health of GMB members.
She said: “The current height of the chimney has had a direct impact on the health of staff and possibly pupils since school opened in 2010.
“In the last three years there has been an increase in asthma related symptoms with members showing a pattern in their breathing being effected when in school. Staff are continually having to vacate to other areas of the school and smoke is finding its way into the teaching areas where students and staff are exposed to these emissions.
“This is having a direct impact on health, absence and pupils’ education and it has been suggested that the chimney should be extended even further than the first suggested height of 17 metres.
If the bio mass boiler is to remain then it is vital that the chimney height is increased.”