High Court challenge over waste transfer facility in Bury St Edmunds fails

The household waste recycling centre on Rougham Hill
The household waste recycling centre on Rougham Hill
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A High Court challenge over controversial plans of the location of a new waste transfer facility in Bury St Edmunds has failed.

One of the country’s leading judges dismissed resident John Corrie’s grounds of challenge to the proposal on Rougham Hill - only 600 metres away from his home.

Mr Corrie claimed that, in granting permission for the waste facility, Suffolk County Council failed to take into account a major new housing extension to the town which will put residents even closer to it.

He said he brought the challenge on behalf of local people opposed to the waste facility and asked Mr Justice Cranston to quash the planning permission granted by the county council to itself in October last year.

Mr Corrie sought an order forcing the county council to reconsider the scheme, which is also opposed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and housing developer Hopkins Homes, which wants to build 1,250 homes on a site to the south of Rougham Hill.

However, ruling that the planning permission should stand, the judge said that the housing plan includes a ‘green barrier’ between the waste facility and new homes, while the development also includes new employment land that might also be located along the border.

He said that the waste facility had been assessed as having ‘no impact’ on the nearest homes and a Sainsbury’s supermarket which are only 200 metres away, and that there is nothing to suggest that new housing will be any closer than that.

He said: “In my judgment the planning committee’s decision cannot be said to be irrational, nor can its planning judgment be impugned.”

He added that the council had taken into account general advice from the Environment Agency on the impacts on residential areas of noise, odour, dust and vermin, and that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had determined in a ‘screening direction’ that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not required.

He said: “The Council was bound by the Secretary of State’s screening direction and it was therfore entitled to grant planning permission.”

In respect of a claim by Mr Corrie that the misting system to be used at the new facility to control odour and dust might cause outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease, the judge said that he was initially ‘troubled’ by this important public health issue.

But he concluded that the council had not disregarded the issue as a material consideration, and that the issue of design of the misting system to control Legionella had been addressed.

Under the planning permission, the site of an existing small-scale household waste recycling centre and adjoining vacant land will house a waste transfer station that will process around 95,000 tonnes of household waste per year, including 5,000 tonnes of ‘hazardous waste’ from gas bottles, car batteries, oil, waste paint, asbestos and clinical waste.

Mr Corrie said that 61 heavy goods vehicles will access the site every day. However, both the County Council and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government both took the view that the proposal would not have significant environmental effects.