07 Jun 2016
Twenty new sites put forward during public consultation earlier this year have been investigated by councils looking to bring waste collection and disposal facilities together.
Following consultation feedback, land at Hollow Road Farm, near Bury St Edmunds, still scores the highest on service and financial criteria and is therefore being recommended as the best location. The three councils working together on this project are looking to develop a West Suffolk Operational Hub, which would bring together a waste transfer station, vehicle depot and Household Waste Recycling Centre on a single site, close to Bury. A consultation was undertaken in early 2016 when the councils published technical reports showing why they believed Hollow Road Farm was the best option.
People across West Suffolk had the opportunity to give their feedback on whether:
The consultation resulted in 551 responses and 33 suggested sites – six were dismissed immediately as unsuitable for service delivery and seven duplicated sites were already looked at. A range of criteria was used in the original documents to assess sites including, (for example) size and location. Following the consultation feedback additional criteria, looking at the impact of traffic pressure in each immediate locality, was added to help further assessment. All the sites put forward, including the 20 new ones, were scored again. Most of these were excluded on service delivery grounds. Three sites; Hollow Road Farm and Tut Hill plus a new site, land south of the West Suffolk Crematorium went through to further assessment, which looked at factors such as distance from homes, local road network, impact on the landscape, heritage, and air quality. Hollow Road Farm received the highest score, with land south of the crematorium next and then Tut Hill.
Cllr Peter Stevens, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for Operations, said: “We are extremely grateful that so many people took part in the consultation. As a result we have made changes to the way we assessed the sites and studied 20 possible locations in detail. Councillors will now be asked to look carefully at that research which has led to the Hollow Road Farm site again coming out as the best option before making a decision on the right way forward.”
Cllr David Bowman, Forest Heath Cabinet member for Operations, said: “The consultation responses were extremely thoughtful and in return we have put a tremendous amount of effort into studying them and carrying out more research. We have a legal obligation to provide many of the services which would be at the hub and we must invest in the necessary plant, equipment and facilities, especially as the cost is going to increase significantly due to more than 20% growth in housing – and bins – so we must plan for that future impact.”
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet member for Environment and Public Protection said: “We must find a site for the long term future of efficient waste disposal in West Suffolk. Current arrangements are costly and do not make best use of the resources and facilities we have available so we had the challenge of finding a new site as the status quo doesn’t work anymore. We must plan for the future impact of growth as more homes and businesses develop in the area and a site that brings these services together offers the best option.”
On 14 June the Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Cabinets will consider whether to recommend building a West Suffolk Operational Hub on land at Hollow Road Farm, Fornham St Martin, to their respective councils, which meet on 28 June (SEBC) and 29 June (FHDC). Suffolk County Council already has the necessary democratic decisions in place as a result of their Energy from Waste project.
Timeline so far
July 2012: Suffolk County Council report says a waste transfer station is needed near Bury St Edmunds.
October 2013: Planning approval given by SCC for a waste transfer station at Rougham Hill.
Summer 2014: While a legal challenge is being made to the Rougham Hill site the West Suffolk councils start talks with SCC about whether a shared operational site could be an option. This followed a change in ownership of the NHS Logistics building in Olding Road, leading to a revised Western Way masterplan and need to move the depot.
February 2015: A number of sites were assessed, leading to Hollow Road Farm being identified as the most suitable location for a shared facility. A land option was agreed with the owner to secure the price should proposed development be approved.
March-April 2015: pre-application consultation with local communities close to Hollow Road Farm.
January-February 2016: Second consultation (not linked to a specific site, open to everyone in West Suffolk) set out why Hollow Road Farm had been identified as preferred site. People asked to scrutinise research, comment on it and suggest alternative sites.
February-June 2016: 551 consultation responses recorded, analysed, researched and responses written. Reports updated to reflect the councils’ responses to consultation comments, including alternative sites.
June 2016: Cabinets and Councils decide whether to proceed with the WSOH project.