Concern over compost

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VILLAGERS in Upton and Heapham are waiting in earnest to find out whether a composting plant has been granted an operational extension.

In 2007, the composting and treatment facility at Sturgate Airfield, Upton, near Gainsborough, was granted conditional planning permission for processing 74,999 tonnes of waste.

The site, owned by Land Network Gainsborough Ltd, was given 15 conditions to follow but breached two.

They have now re-applied and the decision will come before Lincolnshire County Council’s planning committee on Monday 12th March.

But concerns have been raised by people who live nearby, who say the plant is in the wrong place.

They say they have been plagued by odour, noise, dust and flies since the plant opened. And more worryingly, roofing sheets containing asbestos have been found on the site.

“We are worried that this asbestos could have been shredded during the composting process and harmful dust flung into the air around us,” said one resident who wished to remain anonymous.

The Environment Agency said it had inspected the site and found no evidence to suggest the asbestos had been shredded.

“The material has now been moved to an appropriately permitted facility,” said a spokesman.

Residents also object to the sheer scale of composting operations that could develop if the plant is given permission to process 74,999 tonnes a year.

“There are discrepancies in the council’s own reports about whether the limit is 74,999 of waste coming into the site or 74,999 tonnes of compost as an end product,” said the resident.

“The latter could result in a limitless amount of green waste being brought into the site, and increase operations dramatically.”

“In our view this is the wrong place for such a plant, and this is the perfect opportunity for the county council to do the sensible thing, turn it down and move it somewhere else.”

Philip Bates, director of Land Network Gainsborough, told the Gainsborough Standard he has no plans to increase his operation.

“The application says that we can have ‘up to 74,999 tonnes’ but that doesn’t mean we’re going to,” he told the Standard in November.

“We’re just seeking to confirm the planning application that was made four years ago that we made an error on.”

Council officers have recommended councillors approve the application on Monday.