Councils put forward preferred site for West Suffolk Operational Hub

West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142226
West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142226
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Critics have described the decision to put forward Hollow Farm Road as the preferred site for the West Suffolk Operational Hub (WSOH) as a ‘mockery’ of the consultation process.

Twenty further sites were put forward by the public during a second six-week consultation which took place in January and February.

The multi-million pound project would see a waste transfer station, vehicle depot and household recycling centre move to the site on the outskirts of Bury and the household recycling centre in Rougham Hill would close.

Developed in partnership between St Edmundsbury Borough, Forest Heath District and Suffolk County councils, the hub is expected to save the taxpayer more than £1.2 million each year.

St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath cabinets are due to discuss the issue on Tuesday June 14.

Cllr Peter Stevens, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Operations said: “Having looked at all the issues our recommendation is that Hollow Road is the best opportunity to move Suffolk waste forward for the future. The combination at a single hub gives us the opportunity to deliver for the next 25 years for our residents.”

However, the WSOH Villages’ Community Forum has criticised the councils’ decision saying it ‘rides roughshod’ over public opinion.

“Quite clearly, the partner councils have decided to steamroller ahead with their original plans - which make a total mockery of both the process and the principle of local democracy.

“Sadly, this is just another occasion when the Borough has demonstrated its utter contempt for the electorate that it serves.”

Feedback showed that 48 percent of responders disagreed with a single waste site and 35 percent agreed.

Mike Collier, Fornham St Martin Parish Chairman, said: “There is going to be real disappointment in the community as I think everybody expected some sort of movement from the borough council.

“When this first appeared it was clear Hollow Road was their preferred site from day one and everyone will feel this second round of consultations meant very little.

“When 48 percent of people argued against a single hub it is awfully difficult for residents to see how the councils have come to this conclusion.”

Many also felt the option of Symonds Farm near Risby as a possible site was dismissed too quickly.

But council officers said the Hollow Road location had ‘clear daylight’ between it and other suggested sites.

A spokeswoman said: “Three sites; Hollow Road Farm, Symonds Farm and Tut Hill were all assessed against eight set criteria relating to physical aspects, access and location.

“Symonds Farm failed this assessment on its proximity to Bury – it is over two kilometres further west of the area identified as an acceptable location and so would mean more miles travelled by heavy vehicles from the largest population centre.

“There were also two ‘cautions’ flagged about access to the primary lorry network and impact on biodiversity.

“Tut Hill and Hollow Road Farm passed all eight criteria and went on to the next level of assessment, as did land south of the West Suffolk Crematorium at Risby from the second round of consultation.

“Taking everything into consideration – a total of 20 criteria – Hollow Road Farm scored significantly higher than any other site which is why it has been identified as the best location for a West Suffolk Operational Hub.

“Most people taking part in the consultation were from Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.

“We appreciate that 48 percent of those who took part disagreed with the concept of a single hub, however councillors who are elected to take decisions on behalf of communities across the whole of West Suffolk have to balance this against a number of other factors.

“This includes ensuring everyone in West Suffolk has a good waste service when 20 percent housing growth is coming to the area, and how to get the best financial and environmental value for taxpayers.”

What do you think of the decision? Let us know at news@buryfreepress.co.uk