Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Councillors vow to fight expansion of waste plant

COUNCILLORS in Wargrave have vowed to oppose plans to extend the use of a waste depot in nearby Knowl Hill.

Waste management company Grundon wants to prolong waste treatment and recycling operations at the Star Works industrial estate, which is currently used as a collection and treatment facility.

The company, which is currently licensed to use the site until 2021, 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 draft plan anticipates Star Works would deal with up to 100,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Residents have started a campaign against the company’s plans, saying they would result in up to 10 times more waste lorry journeys in the area and more noise, smells and air pollution.

The campaign group, called Muckmentum, also says the council gave a pledge when Grundon’s licence was renewed in 2016 that the site would not be expanded.

Wargrave parish councillor Terry Cattermole attended public meetings on the draft waste plan and reported back to his colleagues last week. He said residents who had thought the plant would close in 2021 must be in despair.

Cllr Cattermole said: “Clinical waste comes in on big lorries at 2am or 3am and residents can’t do anything about it.

“It’s really unpleasant for them and this would continue for a long time ahead. They want 100,000 tonnes — that means there would be more vehicle movements, although Grundon say these would be very similar to now. That doesn’t add up.”

Cllr Cattermole said that the current landfill site would be closed and restored to woodland by 2021 as planned but he was worried that Grundon might also want to extract clay and sand from the woodland.

He said: “If they were to decide they wanted to go ahead with extraction it’s in high-status green belt. They are not saying that but that’s the fear.”

He said extending the life of Star Works was key to the new waste plan but the parish council should still oppose it. Cllr Cattermole said: “It became clear at the meeting that without Star Works they won’t be able to reach the level of capacity they need.

“We have got to break it down into areas that justify it not continuing, like transport, the environment, green belt and woodlands.”

Councillor Philip Davies said: “I don’t think you will find anyone within the parish in agreement with any activity beyond 2021. We have to reply in the strongest possible terms.”

Clerk Stephen Hedges warned that the council would need to find compelling reasons to oppose the plans and, if possible, offer solutions.

He said: “You should also take into consideration what should be done with the parish of Wargrave’s waste. Everyone in the borough is saying ‘not in my back yard’.

“We are looking at giving a response along the lines that the Star Works site has served its purpose and should now be completed and closed down as per the plan that was agreed.”

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. 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.

Grundon says the site has brickmaking facilities dating back to the 1820s and the extraction of clay and sand is permitted until 2042. Landfilling started in 1999.

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

“Temporary uses are for extraction of clay and sand until 2042 and for landfilling part of the extraction area that we are now restoring to woodland by January 2021, in line with our planning permission.

“We have permanent uses for treating 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 waste plan is being produced jointly by Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Reading borough and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead councils and includes sites in all four areas.

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