New recyling centre courts controversy

PUBLISHED: 16:41 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 May 2010

FEARS are running high as Witchford is earmarked as a possible site for a new recycling centre taking household rubbish from across East Cambridgeshire. County council chiefs are investigating plans to put the new indoor centre on land owned by Church Com

FEARS are running high as Witchford is earmarked as a possible site for a new recycling centre taking household rubbish from across East Cambridgeshire.

County council chiefs are investigating plans to put the new indoor centre on land owned by Church Commissioners.

But angry villagers claim the site next to the county's gritting depot at Sterling Way is prime agricultural land and should not be built on.

They fear the new centre would spoil the entrance to the village and intrude on the local countryside.

Villagers expressed their fears during an exhibition of the plans and a public meeting.

Witchford Parish Councillor, George Jellicoe, said: "The selection of this land is fundamentally flawed. This is best and most versatile agricultural land.

"We think they should look again and carry out a proper and comprehensive appraisal of places like Angel Drove, land next to the A10 bypass or the former sugar beet site at Queen Adelaide Way.

"If at the end of the day they still say this is the best site we want the new centre to be built at the back of the site so as not to intrude on the rolling agricultural landscape and ruin the entrance to the village.

"This could act as the Trojan horse for other parts of agricultural land to be built on."

The site is one of a number of locations throughout Cambridgeshire and Peterborough being investigated for new recycling centres as Cambridgeshire County Council works towards creating a new Minerals and Waste Plan to take the area up to 2021.

The new centre for East Cambridgeshire would replace the Grunty Fen landfill site when its licence expires in 2009.

With the Government threatening penalties of £150 a tonne for exceeding landfill dumping, the county is under pressure to push ahead with its recycling targets.

It is expected the centre will deal with up to 200 vehicles a day as householders visit to dump rubbish and up to four lorries arriving to collect full containers.

County councillor Bill Hunt, said: "I have tried to alert residents to these plans and monitor them. I am very conscious of villagers concerns about transport and environment issues, visual impact and noise.

"I want to make sure if this is going to come to Witchford that it is done in a way that is acceptable to the local people."

District councillor, Ian Allen, said: "There is no doubt Ely requires a state-of-the-art recycling centre but whether it should be built-on agricultural land at the main entrance to Witchford is another matter.

"There are undoubtedly some flaws in their methodology. These sites should be as close as possible to the major population centre and that is Ely. So that might mean it should be sited at Angel Drove or on the other side between Ely and Littleport."

Public consultation on the site will close on Monday, December 18 and it could be until at least 2009 before final decisions are made and planning applications submitted.

Cambridgeshire County Council's minerals and waste planning manager, David Atkinson, said: "This centre would be much easier to use. It would be enclosed in a building and people would drive through to the various bays to deposit household waste.

"We are under pressure to move away from landfill and the county council is pursuing a major waste contract which will compost most of the area's waste.

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