6-2 council vote decides fate of new incinerator for Whittlesey

Cleared and ready to become a new incinerator plant. Former Saxon pits at Whittlesey

Cleared and ready to become a new incinerator plant. Former Saxon pits at Whittlesey - Credit: Archant

A new centre to recycle incinerator ash has been given the go ahead, despite hundreds of objections. 

The approval means incinerator ash, as well as construction demolition waste can now be imported, stored, and processed at the former Saxon Brickworks, off Peterborough Road, in Whittlesey. 

However, hundreds of objections had been raised over the plans, with concerns expressed including the impact on air quality in the area, as well as increased traffic and noise. 

The application was made by Johnsons Aggregates and Recycling Limited. The planned site would not be an incinerator, but would import incinerator bottom ash (IBA), as well as construction and demolition waste for recycling. 

At a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee earlier today (Wednesday, April 20) it was explained that the ash would be covered in water before being delivered to the site. 

Once at the site it would then be stored, before being processed to remove metals and to produce recycled secondary aggregates (IBAA). 

The chairman of the company Paul Capell spoke to councillors at the meeting, describing the plans as a “good news story”, highlighting it would stop waste going to landfill, and would create jobs for the area. 

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Mr Capell said: “Our development at Whittlesey will deliver one of the UK’s most advanced incinerator bottom ash recycling facilities and will employ at least 30 local operators and a further 20 or so HGV drivers. 

“Processing of incinerator bottom ash, or IBA, and use of IBAA is highly regulated and governed by the Environment Agency. They have thoroughly reviewed our design, confirmed it is fully compliant with their latest requirements and have granted a permit to process, subject of course to planning. 

“IBA is the product of burning household waste in energy from waste plants, such as you have here at Fourth Drove. 

“Each 100kg of black bag waste produces around 20kg of bottom ash. This would need to go to landfill, or be transported to Ilkeston for processing if we did not have a plant here at Whittlesey.” 

He added: “Why do we do this? 10 percent of what comes in to us is metal, we extract this metal, clean it, size it, and send it to smelters and much of it goes back into things like car production. 

“90 percent of the incoming IBA is turned into an aggregate called IBAA which has been used in road construction as well large-scale civil works for over 20 years. 

“Any material leaving our site is designated as non-hazardous and using IBA reduces the need for quarried materials in many of the building products you use these days.” 

Whittlesey Town Council objected to the plans, raising a number areas of concern, including the traffic impact on Peterborough Road as well as pollution impact from traffic on the town itself. 

A representative of the town council told the committee that Peterborough Road, the A605, is already “surcharged” and said it sees the second highest number of HGVs in the Fenland district. 

They also said they did not believe enough weight had been given to the amount of pollution that would be produced by the HGVs, highlighting the county council’s aims to reduce pollution. 

The chairman of Johnsons Aggregate highlighted that air quality monitoring equipment had already been installed at the site. 

He also said that HGV drivers would be required to turn left out of the site, not driving into Whittlesey, and that this would be written into contracts so that any driver who breaches this would be dismissed. 

Also at the meeting were representatives of community groups who opposed the plans. 

Steven Hodson, representing a group set up specifically to oppose the application, told councillors that the group disagreed with the company’s statement that the waste being brought in to the site was not hazardous. 

He described the application as “fatally flawed”, adding that the proposals are in the “wrong place” and could have “huge risks for the physical and mental health” of people in the area. 

The applicant stressed that no waste on the site would be hazardous, explaining that by law the ash cannot be transferred to the site until it is classed as non-hazardous. 

No objections were raised by any of the statutory bodies, including the Fenland District Council environmental health officer who said in their assessment of noise, that it would not be a statutory noise nuisance. They did say that this would be monitored. 

During the committee debate, there were concerns raised by some councillors over the planned operating times of the site, with Councillor David Conner asking if the company chairman would consider making a compromise. 

Mr Capell explained that they had already adjusted the times following feedback, but that the proposed times were needed in order for the site to be operational. 

Cleared and ready to become a new incinerator plant. Former Saxon pits at Whittlesey

Cleared and ready to become a new incinerator plant. Former Saxon pits at Whittlesey - Credit: Archant

Other councillors on the committee said they had not heard in the meeting a material planning reason for refusal. 

Councillor Sebastian Kindersley highlighted that without a material planning reason, if the committee refused and the decision was appealed, it would be hard to back up the decision at that stage. He also raised that fighting an appeal would also cost the council money. 

Councillors did suggest that the company could set up a liaison committee between itself and the community, and council representatives, to discuss any issues in the future. 

When put to a vote six committee councillors voted in favour and two voted against.