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Stinking Waste Plant allowed to Expand

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 2:01pm

By Faye Brown - Local Democracy Reporter

A grim video shows seagulls circling a waste plant that has been blamed for ‘stinking out a town’ when the Queen was visiting.

A group of the birds can be seen descending on the WSR recycling plant in Widnes – which a councillor has blasted for producing ‘the most appalling smells imaginable’ when Her Majesty and Meghan Markle were in the town to officially open the Mersey Gateway bridge.

Thousands of people lined the streets to see the royal duo officially open the new crossing over the River Mersey last summer.

But despite putting on big smiles for the camera, it is feared the Royal duo may have inhaled “intolerable” odours wafting from the nearby plant.

The concerns have been raised in a list of scathing objections to plans to expand the amount of waste processed at the facility, on Ditton Road, by 50%.

Cllr Stan Hill, who represents the Riverside ward in Halton, said: “It is worth saying this plant emits some of the most appalling odours imaginable and some odour abatement conditions must be imposed on this company to prevent the continuation of their emissions to atmosphere.

“Now is the time for WSR to [clean up their act]. They even stunk the town out on the day the Queen opened the Mersey Gateway.”

He added: “I feel it is essential that odour abatement is an absolute priority for this company.

“Their present operation is completely unacceptable and to allow such a large increase in the volume of waste being treated without vastly improved odour abatement would be a complete dereliction of the council’s duty of care to our residents.

“Please ensure conditions are attached to any permission to make this company comply with an odour free environment.”

The WSR Recycling plant in  Ditton has been causing problems for local people for some time.

As well as intolerable smells, residents have complained about flies and seagulls swarming round the site, which is close to homes and local businesses.

Pleading with Halton Borough Council, fed up residents said approving the plans would give a poor image of the borough and have a negative impact on  air quality and environment.

Halton, which combines Widnes and Runcorn, has been labelled the UK’s “dumping ground” and the “dustbin of the North West” in recent months because of the growing number of waste facilities in the two towns.

Councillors on the planning committee accepted the WSR site was the source of “horrendous smells”, especially during summer, and questioned why so much waste was being imported there.

Cllr Bill Woolfall said: “Where are we generating all this waste from? I don’t understand a small borough like Halton taking waste from such a big conglomeration like Merseyside.

“Last year [the smell] was horrendous. Let’s not kid ourselves. I have to go down Ditton Road all the time. In summer time the Chief Executive emailed all members to say about the smell that was emanating in the town last year, and that’s where it was coming from, WSR.”

But despite expressing sympathy with residents, councillors swiftly  went on to unanimously approve the application at a meeting in the Town Hall on Monday night. .

The decision means  WSR owners Beauparc will be able to erect a new waste enclosure at the site and increase the waste processed from 300,000 tonnes to 450,000 tonnes.

Defending the application, Mr Logan, a spokesperson from Beauparc said the new enclosure would be “air tight”  with “significant odour controls to mitigate the existing odour issues which are there.”

He said: “The application will bring environmental improvements to the existing operation, it will bring better containment to the issues that are already there.”

The applicant has also agreed to submit an environmental management plan as a condition of the development.

But this is unlikely to placate locals, who are facing a number of battles against waste treatment facilities across the borough.

Just a few miles away from the WSR site, waste giant  Veolia were granted permission to erect a waste treatment facility in the residential area of Hale Bank, Widnes.

Those plans are on hold after Hale Bank Parish Council were successful in seeking a Judicial Review of the decision at the High Court in London, set to take place in July.

Over the water in Runcorn, councillors who approved plans to increase the amount of waste burnt at the town’s energy recovery facility were asked “how do you sleep at night?” by furious  residents who stormed out the planning meeting.

The facility prevents waste from going to landfill by burning waste to power homes, but causes misery to locals who have also complained about noise, odour and pollution issues.

In both cases, the respective waste companies have defended their position strongly, insisting they have odour controls in place.

David Bridgwood, National Planning Manager of Veolia said: “We understand that some local residents have concerns about the proposal and we take that seriously and have responded to those raised.
“The development we are proposing is a modern resources management facility that will operate under nationally recognised standards, regulated stringently by the Environment Agency and the local planning authority. The site will be specifically designed to minimise impact on our neighbours and local residents.
“Our relationship with the local community is very important to us since we are a long term operator and value local populations rights, and should this development be approved, we will be creating a number of new jobs at the site where we would welcome and encourage applications from local people.”
WSR have also been contacted for further comment.

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