New consultation on West Suffolk waste hub to consider more sites

Sarah Bartram, pictured centre, with residents outside West Suffolk House, in Bury St Edmunds ANL-150623-195133001
Sarah Bartram, pictured centre, with residents outside West Suffolk House, in Bury St Edmunds ANL-150623-195133001
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A further consultation considering new possible sites for a waste hub in West Suffolk is to take place following fierce opposition to current proposals.

Plans for the West Suffolk Operational Hub have so far centred around a site at Hollow Road Farm, in Bury St Edmunds, a controversial choice which has outraged residents.

However, at a meeting on Tuesday St Edmundsbury borough councillors agreed to a further six week consultation, enabling members of the public to suggest alternative sites.

A focus group comprising members of interested communities will then evaluate the suggestions based on selection criteria.

Cllr Peter Stephens, cabinet member for operations, said: “All options are now on the table.” He added that the new consultation would be ‘full, frank and honest’.

During the public forum Michael Collier, chair of Fornham St Martin cum St Genevieve parish council, said there had been a ‘lack of transparency and trust’ in the previous consultation.

There were also concerns about the funding allocated to finance the consultation and site evaluations - a total of £220,000.

St Edmundsbury councillors approved their share, £108,000, on Tuesday, with Forest Heath’s full council set to approve the remainder at its meeting on October 14.

Resident Adrian Graves argued the funding should come in ‘two obvious stages’, with money for the consultation released first and finances for ‘more detailed development work’ to follow after the results are examined.

Councillors were queuing up to speak against the proposed site and funding.

Cllr Paul Hopfensperger said: “We are discussing a facility that everyone wants but which most people feel is being steam-rollered through with a particular site in mind.”

Cllr Sarah Broughton said: “The first round of consultation was the most appalling I have ever seen. I have never seen so many residents upset.”

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger said it was ‘unfortunate’ that the cabinet document recommended for approval referred to Hollow Road Farm as the ‘preferred site’.

Cllr David Nettleton went one step further, suggesting the council should ‘bite the bullet’ and abandon Hollow Road Farm altogether.

“Who is going to believe the money spent there would be worthwhile?” he said.

Cllr Diane Hind said any discussion on ‘feasability funding’ should be deferred until after the new consultation had ended.

After stating there was ‘no preferred site’, Cllr John Griffiths said: “Most people in this room have been clamouring for an open consultation.”

In his closing statement Cllr Stephens said: “We will consider any option that can meet the criteria.”