Whittlesey firm East Anglian Resources Ltd is threatening protest action over ‘unfair’ planning conditions they say are putting the company in jeopardy
- Credit: Archant
The boss of a family-run whittlesey firm is threatening action over what he calls ‘unfair and unworkable’ planning conditions imposed on the company.
James Tribe and his sons Bobby and Ashley set up East Anglian Resources Ltd four years ago with little savings and a “whole lot of ambition”.
Last year the company based on an industrial estate off Benwick Road secured enough contracts to ensure the long-term future of both the firm and its employees.
But James says the company is now in jeopardy with the family facing losing everything because of a condition imposed as part of a recent application to extend the site and increase throughput to meet customer demand.
Under the condition imposed by Cambridgeshire County Council lorries are banned from entering or exiting the site overnight (between 7pm and 7am),
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However, James said the family would never have agreed to the condition had they realised it was being imposed and says it is totally unworkable and is threatening the future of his firm.
“All I want is a fair playing field. We are not cry babies, but this condition is totally unfair and unworkable. This is an industrial estate with about 16 other companies on it and they can have lorries coming and going whenever they like,” said James.
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Bobby even undertook a traffic survey spending three nights at the site recently monitoring HGVs in and out and he said: “Our lorries were about five per cent of the number going in and out.”
The family believe they are being penalised unfairly because of past complaints about dust emissions from the site and claim there is only really one complainant upset over their lorries.
James said: “I admit when we first setup we were still finding our way and we were making dust. But we have done everything we can to keep it to a minimum now. We have invested thousands of pounds in water sprayers and we have put up a metal fence as a physical barrier. We have tried hard to deal with any complaints we get from our neighbours.
“But the problem is there are other sites operating on our borders. They are not doing things properly and they are creating dust, the dust we then get blamed for.
“We have been accused of operating at night, we never operate at night but another site runs through the night, and again we are blamed.
“The moment anyone complains the Environment Agency (EA) are down on us like a ton of bricks, but when we point out the other sites are operating ‘illegally’ and ask them to do something about them, no action seems to be taken.
“They just seem to want to make life as difficult for us as possible. This latest condition is just an example of that. We have now applied for a variance, but if we don’t get it then we will take protest action.
“When we started it was just the three of us, now we employ 27 people. We work very closely with the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) to help people who are unemployed and run a work experience programme. We have taken on a number of people that way.”
The persistent dust complaints have prompted the Tribe family to install monitors around the site and close to homes and other businesses. These are regularly checked by a specialist company to ensure any dust is not coming from East Anglian Resources Ltd.
“This is an industrial area, we have a company that is processing concrete on one side of us (GCE Hire Fleet) and there is also wood waste dumped on their land. This is closest to Station Road, so it is probably dust from there that is causing problems in that direction.
“There is the other wood recycling site at the back of us. Dust from them can look like it is coming from us. We have been accused of dumping wood dust on land on the estate, but we were asked to move it by the EA when it caught fire in a building where another illegal wood processor was operating.
“We did it as a favour to them and to help the fire service to tackle the fire.
“The EA were going to get it moved from the land but two years later and it is still there, that is illegal dumping but nobody seems to care about that. We were accused by the land owner Mick George of dumping the waste, they turned up with a solicitor. But accepted we had done it at the request of the EA - they are not happy that it is still on their land, but again nothing is being done about it. It is dust from this waste that is most likely blowing into our neighbours, Smurfit Kappa, who complain to the EA about dust from our site.”
The family have also had to put in a “ludicrous” operational development application for some lorry containers used as a wind break on the site, because the council’s enforcement team believes they are a permanent fixture.
“It is absolutely ludicrous. They have come out and we have demonstrated that the containers can be moved, but still they say they can’t be moved and we need planning permission.
“I think it’s important that the hard working tax paying people of Cambridgeshire know what their taxes are really being spent on with regards to council enforcement officers and EA officials and how they seem to “cherry pick” the complaints they receive. I am certainly not happy with the excuses they have given me for the complaints and issues I have raised with both council and EA.
James continued: “We don’t expect special treatment or favours, all we are asking is for a fair playing field, so we can get on with running our business, keeping people in jobs and supplying our customers.”
Bobby added: “We have worked really hard, we invested every penny we had into this company. We have invested a lot more money since, but all our hardwork could be for nothing if the condition is not changed.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “We are working closely with the operator of East Anglian Resources Ltd in Whittlesey to reduce dust emissions on site. In this instance site operating hours are regulated by the Local Authority. We would be very interested to learn more about the two potential illegal waste sites in the area and would encourage members of the public to contact our incident hotline on 0800 807060 if they have concerns about a waste related activity.”
A county council spokesman said: “The planning conditions in place are aimed at minimising disturbance on nearby residents. Similar conditions are placed on other waste operators across the county. The details of the proposed conditions were approved by the company’s planning agent before a report approving an extension to the working hours for the site went to our planning committee.
“We are currently investigating reports that the company are breaching these conditions. A subsequent application to amend the conditions has been submitted to us and we are waiting to hear back from their planning agent on how they wish to proceed. We have no evidence to suggest other businesses with county waste permissions adjacent to this site are failing to comply with their planning conditions.”