Bury St Edmunds: Controversial decision to approve a waste transfer station in Rougham Hill was lawful, but an alternative site may now have been found
14:30 23 July 2014
A controversial decision to grant planning permission for a waste transfer station on the edge of Bury St Edmunds was lawfully made, a High Court judge has ruled.
A ‘fighting fund’ was set up by a group of people concerned about the potential impact of the proposed facility in Rougham Hill after Suffolk County Council approved it in October last year.
The group were worried about a range of issues including the effect extra heavy goods vehicles would have on an already congested part of the town and possible odour and noise issues from the facility.
The opposition resulted in the case going to the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday, but it was ruled that the planning decision was made after following ‘published planning policies’ and with ‘full access to the relevant information’.
The decision means the county council now has the right to build the transfer station, but the authority has pledged to continue to work with St Edmundsbury Borough Council to find alternative sites.
County council’s cabinet member for resource management and waste, Jenny Antill, said: “We fully recognise the right of those opposed to this waste transfer station to challenge it. But today, a High Court judge has independently validated our long-held position that our decision-making process was robust and appropriate.
“Now that this legal challenge is finally over, we will continue to work with St Edmundsbury Borough Council to investigate and evaluate the alternative sites they have proposed. Nothing has changed in that respect.
“Up until this point, the threat of the judicial review has significantly constrained our ability to engage in this very serious process as fully as we would have wished to.
“As we have said before, we will consider any alternative proposals based on their merits, bearing in mind what is in the best interest of Suffolk.”
Investigation work has looked at the possibility of a new combined waste and depot facility on land off Compiegne Way in Bury St Edmunds.
This follows a proposal approved by the borough on June 30 to spend up to £100,000 to investigate the feasibility of the site, as well as securing an option to buy the land.
An initial review of the 16-acre greenfield site at Hollow Road Farm has found it could be suitable. An extensive feasibility study will now take place, as well as preliminary design work.
Leader of the council, John Griffiths, said: “This is an ambitious and innovative project, even by St Edmundsbury’s own high standards, but it has serious potential.
“By co-locating these facilities in one place we would cut the amount of travelling and journeys our vehicles have to cover as well as reducing management and facility costs.”
Peter Stevens, portfolio holder for waste and property, added: “It could lead to a multitude of savings, partnerships and more efficient ways of working, all of which will benefit our services and cut the costs to the taxpayer.”
The transfer station will allow waste to be bulked up into bigger lorries so ‘traffic movements and costs can be minimised’ when it is transported to the new Energy from Waste facility in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, which is expected to be fully operational in December.