Lincolnshire recycling plant operator claims red tape is keeping site closed
FOUR months after having to close his doors, a waste recycling plant operator claims council red tape is preventing him from running a site in Addlethorpe.
Bowman's Waste Ltd was served with an enforcement notice in September after Lincolnshire County Council's planning officers visited the site.
On site, were 850 tonnes of unprocessed waste, just three per cent of which was unauthorised under the plant's planning conditions as it included things such as food waste remnants.
Several months on and 550 tonnes of waste still remain at the site as operator Kenny Ellis says LCC won't allow him to bring in the machinery needed to remove it.
Mr Ellis said: "I was under the impression that the planning conditions were being adhered to but it was a technical interpretation of those conditions that led to the enforcement notice.
"The planning conditions state the building should be used for the processing/storage of only inert and semi-inert waste but semi-inert is terminology which is impossible to find a definition for.
"However, when the enforcement notice was received it gave a very prescriptive list of waste which contradicts the broad brush stroke of the semi-inert description.
"All we are trying to do is recycle waste that's generated locally rather than send it to landfill, but inevitably we receive waste we don't want as we don't know it's there until we sort it.
"We are now in a situation where LCC won't let us bring in the machinery needed to remove the waste because it's in breach of our planning condition so the only option is to send the waste to landfill which is precisely what we want to avoid."
The site, off Mill Lane, has been home to waste processing businesses since 2002 but operations lapsed in 2011 while Mr Ellis put in a planning application for an anaerobic digester plant which was approved but then later refused.
Mr Ellis said: "Various companies have carried out similar operations, including processing local authority waste, on this site for nine years and one month but because of the break in 2011, we are unable to prove 10 years of continuous activity resulting in this perceived planning condition breach."
Following the enforcement notice, Mr Ellis had to make the 18 staff at the site redundant and feels there has been a lack of co-operative spirit to get the situation resolved.
Conflicting reports of visits by officers from the Environment Agency and Lincolnshire County Council have been seen by the Target which appear to show some discrepancies.
In one report it was claimed the EA had received 10 odour complaints between June 20 and July 22, 2012 but the EA had only notified Bowman's of two complaints during that period, both of which were unsubstantiated.
A report from the visit on September 5, which led to the enforcement action, also referred to vast numbers of flies but the EA compliance assessment report said: "Levels of flies outside the building were seen to be very low." Odour levels that day were also not considered a breach of permit.
A second enforcement notice was also issued in relation to traffic entering and leaving the site outside of permitted hours.
Mr Ellis said: "This is a business park and the enforcement notice only refers to Bowman Waste Ltd and does not restrict the operating hours of the other tenants.
"Bowman's Waste have made and will continue to make every effort to ensure this business is compliant.
"The national political situation from David Cameron is to cut through the planning red tape and employ people to make up the losses of public sector jobs but it doesn't appear to be supported on a local level.
"We are in the process of submitting a planning variation to concur with the waste streams permitted in the Environmental Permit, which we have been compliant with since opening."
Neil McBride, development manager at LCC, said: "Bowmans Waste Ltd must remove the unauthorised waste on site as instructed by the breach of condition notice.
"The equipment that the company wanted to install would prolong removing the unauthorised mixed and black bagged waste, and such machinery is not permitted under the site's current planning permission.
"We have met with Mr Ellis and his agent to discuss a possible future application and have advised him what issues need to be addressed."