AD Plant Public Inquiry – Decision awaited

Fletcher Bank Quarry

Fletcher Bank Quarry

Following the four week long public inquiry into the planning appeal over proposals to construct an Anaerobic Digestion Plant at Fletcher Bank in Ramsbottom, residents campaign group, RAWS, has now finally concluded giving its evidence to the Planning Inspector, Ian Jenkins.

The legal case being put forward by “Ramsbottom Against Waste Site (RAWS)” has been led by Dr Peter Jackson, myself, Colin Butterworth and Glen Duckett – members of the core committee of 6 residents that have been co-ordinating the residents’ fight against the proposals.

Oral representations to the inquiry concluded at Bury Town Hall on Wednesday 1 April 2015 following submissions by RAWS, Bury Council and the site owners, Marshalls Mono and Peel Environmental. A site visit was due to take place on Thursday 2 April and written statements on noise pollution will be filed by 8 April 2015 so that the Inspector can prepare his report.

Our MP at the time, David Nuttall, asked the Secretary of State for Local Government to “call-in” or “recover” the Planning Appeal so that a decision could be made by the Secretary of State himself given its importance to local residents and the threat of a substantial development in the Green Belt.   The Secretary of State has agreed and a final decision is not expected until at least June 2015.

We made strong representations to the Planning Inspector on behalf of RAWS at the inquiry.  A copy of our closing submission to the Inspector can be found here: APP_T4210_A_14_2225754_RAWS_Closing_Submission_310315

The proposal is for the AD plant to generate electricity and heat for the nearby Marshalls cement factory. However, it became clear that the factory is not financially reliant on the AD Plant being built as was previously claimed. Marshalls also admitted that claims by Peel Environmental that the AD plant would “safeguard” jobs at their cement factory was simply not true. It has also become clear that there is something seriously wrong with the AD industry in this country in that nearly every AD plant built and operated near residential properties results in complaints by nearby residents of foul smells, odour and noise pollution. We simply cannot allow that to happen here in Ramsbottom.

Our main argument has been that the proposed development is inappropriate in this Green Belt setting. In our opinion, neither Marshalls nor Peel have demonstrated any circumstances during the inquiry that would outweigh the harm that would be caused to the Green Belt by an industrial plant being built at Fletcher Bank.

In terms of the traffic implications, Whalley Road and Manchester Road in Shuttleworth is already very busy. The traffic light junction with Bury New Road at the entrance to Fletcher Bank is already considered to be at full capacity. The AD traffic will be an increase in HGV’s from the current situation. HGV’s from the site would also continue to use Peel Brow and narrow roads in the centre of Ramsbottom. There will be one vehicle movement on average every 90 seconds if the proposal goes ahead.

Not only that, but Ramsbottom businesses have worked hard to turn our town into a premier tourist destination, and those efforts are seriously under threat by this proposal.

I would like to take the opportunity of thanking my colleagues in the RAWS committee. We have all worked so hard on this, and it really has taken up every minute of our spare time over the last 2 years. Having to go through a 4 week public inquiry, fitting it in around our own jobs, businesses and family lives, has been very difficult, but we have tried to do our best for residents of Ramsbottom.

I truly hope now that the Secretary of State upholds the decision of the planning committee on Bury Council to refuse permission on the basis that the development was inappropriate in the Green Belt and would expose residents to pollution from odour and noise.

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