Long-running plans for a snow resort in Suffolk could be in jeopardy after planners recommended extending the licence of a nearby landfill site.

Developers behind the ski-centred resort at Great Blakenham – formerly called Snoasis – previously warned they would pull out of the project should the neighbouring landfill site be granted an extension until 2035. 

But Suffolk County Council planners have recommended the council's development and regulation committee on Monday, October 31, approves an extension of the landfill operator's licence – until December 2032.

SnOasis was first announced after the site near the former cement works was bought by Onslow (Suffolk) Ltd in 2001 and during the next nine years, the plans were outlined and went through a lengthy planning process – including a public inquiry – before being approved by the government in 2010.

However, by then the financial crash had hit banks meaning they were unable to make large loans, and in 2012 the company was facing big financial problems and its main figurehead Godfrey Spanner was declared bankrupt.

The site was eventually sold to a new company with different backers and a new project was launched in 2020 with significant changes and a new name: Valley Ridge.

It hoped to start work to tie in with the end of the landfill licence for the neighbouring site next door in 2022 – Suffolk's non-recyclable domestic waste now goes to the nearby incinerator, not into landfill. 

But then-operator Viridor – which has since been taken over by Valencia Waste Management – last year asked for a 13-year extension to the licence, prompting Valley Ridge's operators to threaten to pull out if this was granted.

The backers warned this decision would force them to abandon their plans which are slated to bring £500m of investment into the area and create 2,000 jobs.

Mid Suffolk District Council urged the county to send the extension request straight to the government to streamline the process given that an appeal would be likely to end up in Whitehall anyway.

However, planners have recommended Suffolk County Council approve the licence extension – albeit for a shorter amount of time.

If approved, the licence would run until December 31, 2030, with subsequent final restoration of the site complete by 31 December, 2032  – instead of the originally applied for timescale of October 31, 2035, with a restoration period to be completed by October 31, 2037.

The county council report says: "The potential for the landfilling and leisure uses to conflict with each other was rehearsed when the permissions were granted the former SnOasis scheme, with the conclusion being that the uses can co-exist.

"This is a position which the officers of the County Council believe are supported by robust evidence and will allow Suffolk to manage its waste disposal needs and enable economic benefits to be delivered through the neighbouring developments.

"Given the identified need to continue waste to be deposited through landfilling at this site is expected to decline beyond 2030, the economic potential that could be gained from the neighbouring Valley Ridge scheme and the environmental benefits from a shorter operational period, Officers recommend to the Committee that a shorter period of landfilling be permitted."

A statement from Valencia waste management said: "Valencia Waste Management Ltd welcome Suffolk County Council’s recommendation of approval of our planning application to extend the life of the Masons Landfill.

"The Officer’s Report correctly concludes that both developments can co-exist and that landfill remains an integral part of the UK’s waste management strategy."

Valley Ridge's representatives have been contacted for comment.

There is a very strong possibility that whatever decision the committee comes to will be appealed by either them or the backers of Valley Ridge.

That would see the final decision being sent to the government's Department of Housing and Local Government in London.