Bosses behind controversial plans to extend operating hours at a waste recycling plant today hit out at critics of the scheme, saying it had been the subject of “major misconceptions.”
Businesses close to Lancashire Waste Recycling’s plant at the Burn Hall Industrial Estate, in Thornton, have told The Gazette of major concerns that the plans will spark more noise and smells.
Critics include bosses at the Cala Gran Holiday Park, who have suspended planned investment in their site while the application is decided.
A number of meetings have also been held, including one on November 19 where residents and local councillors called on the Environment Agency to enforce action against the plant.
But, speaking for the first time since the application was tabled last November, Lancashire Waste Recycling (LWR) said its recently submitted planning application has been the subject of “major misconceptions”.
The firm, which employs 30 staff, said it has no intention of extending its operation.
It said it is applying for permission to operate for an extra hour in the morning and in the evening to cut down on local traffic congestion, especially at ‘school-run’ times.
But bosses said it will only carry out exactly the same amount of work it does currently in that time.
There will be no extra material nor any increase in the number of lorries using the site.
And LWR stresses it has “no intention” of using food waste in its green recycling process.
Other parts of the planning application relate to noise-reducing measures and odour control systems already introduced at the plant.
Lancashire Waste Recycling also said it has invested £8m in the job-creating operation on what was previously a derelict part of the industrial estate.
Paul Mellor, managing director of LWR, said the company has had talks with the area’s MP to explain its application and what it does.
It is also looking to meet local councillors and is happy to discuss its recycling operations with all of its neighbours.
Mr Mellor added: “There has been a campaign against our business involving advertisements and leaflets with regards to our current planning applications.
“We feel that, to safeguard the employment of our staff and the £8m investment we have made, we need to clarify our intentions, as this campaign does not reflect the full facts.
“Lancashire Waste Recycling reprocesses residual non-recyclable plastics and textiles, which would otherwise be destined for landfill.
“We refine this material into a fuel that is used to replace the burning of coal in cement kilns.
“We are not intending to change our input material, but the material we accept does have a very small element of food contamination on the plastic, such as packaging and plastic trays.
“That’s the reason for that part of the application, to ensure we meet all the conditions laid out. We do not wish to accept any raw food waste, as this is simply not suitable for our process.
“In addition, we do not intend to accept more material, as we have strict constraints set by our Environment Agency permit. This is not part of any plan by us to expand what we do at Fleetwood.
“Likewise, we are not looking to increase the amount of vehicle movements to and from our site, but instead simply to lengthen the scope of these movements to help reduce congestion outside our facility and to allow for outward vehicle movements of finished product to end users.
“This is also reflected in the application for an extra hour in the mornings, which will enable us to let the waiting vehicles in promptly and avoid congestion, especially during ‘school-run’ times.
“The extra hour in the evening will allow us to process the entire amount of material we receive each day and reduce the risks of stockpiles within our facility.”
If its application is successful, the plant will be able to operate from 7am until 7pm during weekdays.
Jim Entwisle, operations director at LWR, said the company was committed to being a good neighbour.
He explained: “We have a time restriction placed upon us – the rest of the estate operates 24 hours a day. I can’t stress enough, we don’t intend to process one more ounce of waste.
“We have invested heavily into our odour control system and part of our application is for retrospective permission in relation to this, enabling us to protect our neighbours.
“We do want to be good neighbours. We are continuing to improve our standards, refine our processes and the operation to minimise our impact on the area.
“Until recently, we had not been approached by our neighbours with regards to any concerns involving our operations on-site.”