Protesters to continue fight against waste hub site after councillors vote to consult further

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 leading protester says she will continue her fight against plans for a waste hub on a controversial site near Bury after councillors voted to consult further about the proposals.

Sarah Bartram, of Fornham St Martin, this evening urged councillors at a meeting of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet to reject the authority’s preferred option to set up the West Suffolk Operational Hub on land at Hollow Road Farm, off Compiegne Way.

Presenting four petitions containing 844 signatures from residents in Fornham St Martin, Great Barton and Bury, Mrs Bartram said they were opposed to the site because of its countryside location and proximity to houses with the potential for increased traffic and a ‘negative environmental impact’.

She called on the council to consider alternative non-residential industrial sites and received a standing ovation from about 40 residents who also attended the meeting.

After listening to her concerns - which had been echoed throughout a previous six week consultation - the authority’s cabinet voted in favour of recommendations to hold another round of consultation with residents to explain how it had reviewed potential sites and decided on Hollow Road Farm as its preferred option.

Cllr Peter Stevens, portfolio holder for operations, said: “I would sincerely ask all residents to look closely at how we’re going forward with waste in the future. Gone are open tips - that isn’t how we treat our waste in the future but we have a duty to listen to you and we are going out to further consultation especially on our site location so it can be seen what problems we have to overcome and whether there may be in future a better site.

“All sites will have their problems and nobody I’m afraid thinks they should have it near them.”

The proposals, between St Edmundsbury Borough, Forest Heath District and Suffolk County Councils, would include a waste transfer station, new vehicle depot and a household waste recycling centre.

Cllr Stevens said the transfer station would be enclosed in a building and St Edmundsbury would work with the county council on the ‘very best solution for the perceived traffic problems’.

Borough and County Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, who represents the Fornham ward, said the strength of feeling against the proposed site ‘cannot be ignored’.

She told the meeting that in 2001 the council objected to plans for a waste transfer site at Hollow Road Farm due to its ‘inappropriate use of the countryside and adverse impacts on residential areas’.

Cllr Hopfensperger said these were ‘still concerns and valid objections’ and wanted other sites to be ‘genuinely considered’ during the new consultation.

Borough Cllr Sarah Broughton, who represents Great Barton, said the council needed to ‘think again’ and look at other sites as Hollow Road Farm ‘isn’t the answer’.

Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the council, said: “We’re looking at this extremely carefully. That’s why the proposal is to do further consultation, get further information to see if your concerns can be mitigated, to look at all the various possible sites you or others think might be suitable.”

After the meeting, Mrs Bartram said she was ‘furious’ and felt from the wording of the cabinet paper they were only going to use the consultation period to prove why they had chosen Hollow Road Farm.

She said: “My idea is that they go back to the drawing board and they remove Hollow Road Farm as a potential site - it’s the wrong place.

“I will continue fighting them and if I have to I will raise another petition.”

The consultation plans will go before St Edmundsbury’s full council on July 7 and a document about the plans would be issued later this summer for residents to comment on.