Hitchin recycling plant proposals spark traffic, noise and safety fears

A planning application to build a recycling plant in Bury Mead Road in Hitchin has caused concerns f

A planning application to build a recycling plant in Bury Mead Road in Hitchin has caused concerns for residents. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

A campaign has been launched against a proposed recycling plant in Hitchin, as residents fear it will cause noise, pollution and a major increase in lorry traffic.

The planning application has been submitted to Herts County Council by Wastell and Porter Architects Ltd and, if successful, would see a processing plant built in Bury Mead Road.

At a residents' meeting held last week, families claimed the site is far too close to a large residential area, schools and nurseries and that the recycling operation and lorry journeys will put people's health at risk - all things which have been rebuffed by the firm behind the plans.

It comes less than a month after a man was injured when heavy machinery fell from a lorry on Grove Road - the only route into the site.

Bill Wilson, who has lived in nearby Heathfield Road for more than 60 years, is co-ordinating a petition against the plans.

"I support the principle of recycling, but this won't be a place for the public to use - it will be a commercial facility turning vast quantities of building waste into hardcore," he said.

"The recycling building will have an open side towards the residential area and the noise, smell and dust coming from it are likely to make life intolerable for us. It's entirely the wrong place for this sort of industrial operation."

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Around 30 residents attended a public meeting about the proposed development at Strathmore Infant and Nursery School last week, along with district councillors Judi Billing, Ian Albert and Val Bryant.

Councillor Billing said: "The strength of feeling against this planning application was clear for all to see at the meeting and I will do all I can to make sure the county council hears our views."

A Wastell & Porter spokesman told the Comet the proposed site - next to an existing waste transfer station run on behalf of the council - "would not intensify traffic flows excessively", as it is "designed to recycle waste by separating it into material groups".

"This would allow the existing waste transfer station next door to pass some of their waste through to the recycling plant and result in clean recyclables not being sent to landfill," a spokesman said.

"At present all the waste is delivered to the neighbouring site, roughly sorted and then transported out."

Regarding noise and dust, the firm said it would follow the Environmental Agency's regulations.

The spokesman said: "The noise is controlled by site operation times and the proposed high-end sorting plant that is designed to have minimal noise output. Dust is controlled by an airknife system and if required will have further reduction by water spray.

"Highways safety is paramount and the highways department has been consulted on the application as a consultant. Any safety concerns as a result of the development will be noted and addressed by highways.

"With all the press on waste littering in the world, recycling plants are increasingly needed to reduce waste and landfill. The chosen site is in a suitable location to minimise both excessive transport to remote locations and within a designated industrial area."

To view the planning application, expected to be considered on October 31, go to planning.hertfordshire.gov.uk/Search and search PL/0097/19.