Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Residents oppose plan to extend use of waste depot for second time

CAMPAIGNERS are opposing plans to extend the use of a waste depot for the second time.

They say their lives will be made a misery if waste management company Grundon is allowed to prolong its operations at the Star Works industrial estate in Knowl Hill, which is currently used as a collection and treatment facility.

The company would continue to operate at the site beyond its current 2021 deadline and could also increase the plant’s capacity as part of Wokingham Borough Council’s new waste and mineral plan, which is currently out to consultation.

The campaigners say this would result in up to 10 times more waste lorry journeys in the area and more noise, smells and air pollution.

They also claim that the council pledged the site would not be expanded when Grundon’s licence was renewed in 2016.

The site in Star Lane has been used by businesses since the Second World War and was taken over by Grundon in the Nineties for use as landfill.

The campaigners have launched a group called MuckMentum, which is appealing to residents to oppose the plans and already has hundreds of online subscribers from Wargrave, Crazies Hill and the surrounding area.

Campaigner Rob White, from Knowl Hill, said: “What the campaign does not want is for the waste site to be expanded. There would be a 10 times increase in waste processing through recyclables and household waste.

“Our campaign has looked at the national framework and we think it doesn’t meet the criteria that the council would use to choose a site.

“People in the village already suffer horrendously from pollution of noise, litter, HGV traffic and dust. You name it, it comes with having a major waste operation on your doorstep.

“Grundon has a licence for 90 vehicle movements per day. Think what a 10 times increase would mean for the A4 and surrounding roads. HGVs driving through the village 24/7 really worries people.

“It’s about the pollution and continued inconvenience. People haven’t been able to open their windows in the last 20 years due to the smell.”

In 2010, Maidenhead MP and then Home Secretary Theresa May voiced her concerns about an application by Grundon to extend its operations on the site to 2021 but this was approved anyway.

At the time, Mrs May said: “Residents have had to put up with numerous inconveniences as a result of work at this site, including high levels of noise pollution, unpleasant odours and increased levels of HGV traffic.

“Despite the difficulties they have encountered, they have at least known that there was a clear limit on the time in which work could take place.

“Weakening these safeguards will represent a blow to residents and could set a precedent by which Grundon can continually apply for extensions.”

Mr White said: “That was eight years ago but you could say the same again today.

“Work is due to cease in 2021 and we are really disappointed that they are even considering this site again as a dumping ground for the borough’s waste.

“It’s armageddon in the village and we are working very hard to get our MP and the local councils to remove the site from the draft plan.”

The draft plan anticipates Star Works will deal with up to 100,000 tonnes of waste per year. But Councillor John Halsall, who represents Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe on the council, says this figure is based on old data which suggests the site can take 70,000 tonnes of landfill and 10,000 tonnes of recycling a year.

Cllr Halsall said: “They’ve said that 80,000 tonnes is not so different from 100,000 tonnes of recycling but that would be a 10-fold increase on what happens currently. It’s a scandal that they should go out to consultation with something so ill-prepared.”

Stewart Mitchell, head of estates at Grundon, said: “Star Works incorporates a range of industrial and other uses, some permanent and some temporary.

“We have permanent uses that treat waste and for recycling fridges and freezers and collecting waste glass to send off site for recycling. It is the permanent uses and their area that we have asked to be rolled over into the new waste plan.

“We employ 72 people at the site, many of whom are local.”

The draft plan is being produced jointly with Bracknell Forest Council, Reading Borough Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and includes other sites across these areas. It will be discussed at a public meeting at Maidenhead town hall on Thursday from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.

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