It seems a long time ago that I first heard from Peel Holdings of their proposal for an Anaerobic Digestion Plant in Ramsbottom. After doing some quick research on what it was, I quickly leafleted residents of Shuttleworth within a couple of days with the news. Within hours, we organised a residents meeting and a small band of us met to form a group which we named “Ramsbottom Against the Waste Site” or “RAWS” as it has affectionately become known as.
That was back in May 2013. Since then, and after literally hundreds and hundreds of hours spent on our campaign by numerous residents, we reached the position last night where Peel’s planning application was to come before the Planning Committee of Bury Council.
It was tremendous to see hundreds of local residents turn up on the night – just a fraction of the 1,500 who had taken the time to object to the planning application – but vocal enough to ensure that the Planning Committee heard our appeals to reject the planning application. It also gathered media attention from local and regional press. TV cameras were arranged from the BBC and independent news organisations.
The Council Chamber was packed with residents when the Planning Committee arrived. First up was Karen Pollard-Rylance – our Chair of RAWS – to give our reasons for objections. She gave a tremendous speech to rapturous applause from residents in the gallery.
After a short speech by Peel Holdings, it was my turn to focus the minds of the committee on the two main issues – that the proposed AD plant would be in the Green Belt, and the threat of pollution – smells, odours etc – that would blight our town.
Speeches followed by Cllr Rob Hodkinson – who focused on the threat to our town centre, and Cllr Luise Fitzwalter who concentrated on the technical arguments about air pollution.
It quickly became clear that the Planning Committee were with us on the issue of the development being inappropriate in the Green Belt. They understood the arguments about the threat from bad odours – in particular I had focused on the horrendous stories from the AD Plant at Leyland.
On a final vote, the Planning Committee voted to refuse the application. The Council Chamber erupted in cheers and applause.
Whilst it has been an exhausting time, we in RAWS are so grateful to all the residents and traders that have joined us in our opposition to this proposed plant. It was also heart-warming that the political parties joined us in our fight and that we could express a united front.
I do hope that Peel take note and decide not to appeal this decision.
Finally, I want to thank in particular the following members of RAWS for their sterling work – Karen Pollard-Rylance, Colin Butterworth, Karl Moore, Peter Jackson, Sandy Johnson and all the other residents who have helped us in our fight. Without you, we couldn’t have done it. It is a good day for democracy and our community. We in RAWS have agreed to keep the committee going as a “Ramsbottom Protection Society” to campaign on issues that are important to us here in Ramsbottom. Long may it continue.