Waste firm gets go-ahead until 2030

Herald Series: Mark Baker of the CPRE Mark Baker of the CPRE

A RECYCLING plant in South Oxfordshire will operate for an extra 11 years, despite objections from neighbouring residents.

The centre at Sutton Courtenay currently processes 600,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Operator FCC Environment was given permission to extend the life of the site from seven years to 18 at a meeting this week. It means waste will be processed there until 2030, even though local people raised a series of objections.

Community campaigners packed the public gallery at the Oxfordshire County Council’s planning and regulation sub-committee meeting.

The committee was ruling on proposals to amend planning permission granted for the site earlier this year, to increase the recycling rate from 70,000 tonnes per year to 200,000 and extend its life from seven years to 18.

The applicant said the adjacent landfill site was already allowed to carry on working until 2030, so the extension of the life of its “materials recycling facility” would mean that more waste would be recycled.

But the company has been criticised by residents living near the facilities.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Angela Jones, from Appleford Parish Council, said residents already suffered with the stench from its composting facility, and were going to have to put up with an anaerobic digester if a another planning bid was approved.

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She said: “This company is incapable of running phase one of this project, the composting facility, without making the lives of local residents a misery with the stench.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England criticised the way in which the application was handled, claiming a new planning bid should have been launched, instead of an application to make “minor changes” to an existing permission.

CPRE Oxfordshire director Helen Marshall said: “The history of this company is not good in terms of local relations. They need to work harder to gain the trust of local people. It’s perceived that regular applications which significantly change the use of the site are being put forward as minor amendments every few months.”

CPRE campaigner Mark Baker said: “I think due process has been neglected and localism has been made a mockery of.”

Mike Graham, speaking on behalf of FCC, said 600,000 tonnes was already processed by the site each year, but the company wanted to recycle a greater proportion of it. He said: “We in no way want to take more waste. We have said we have to be honest about what we need to do to be able to finish on the landfill site in 2030, and we have said it would involve some planning applications.”

He admitted the company had been slapped on the wrists by the council earlier this year for starting work at the site before it had written permission to do so.

He said: “Maybe the thinking at Sutton Courtenay was not so joined-up as it could have been.”

The proposal was approved by eight votes to three, with two abstentions.

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