Councils face grilling at waste hub meeting
Council chiefs were grilled at a heated public meeting on Friday about the proposed West Suffolk Waste Hub.
More than 200 people packed the Athenaeum in Bury St Edmunds to voice their opinions on the multi-million pound project.
Suffolk County, St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Councils have put forward proposals to bring together a waste transfer station, household waste recycling centre and vehicle depot at a single site.
They argue this will reduce the total number of vehicle movements needed to transport waste which would cut the money the council spends of fuel and staff time, reduce the carbon footprint and futureproof Suffolk’s waste disposal network.
Bryn Griffiths from Suffolk County Council told the meeting the scheme would save the taxpayer money.
He said: “By putting them together, that journey home that costs money, wastes staff time, costs fuel and puts extra trucks on the roads doesn’t have to happen.”
A variety of concerns were voiced about the scheme, especially the increase in traffic a single hub would attract. It was revealed a combined site would host 900-930 vehicle movements a day.
Adrian Graves from Great Barton said he couldn’t see how that number of vehicle movements could be handled with “roads and infrastructure that are already inadequate”.
“Will the council explain how it believes it can accommodate this traffic?” he said.
Many questioned whether having a combined site was the answer at all, saying the concentration of vehicles it would generate could be mitigated by splitting the sites.
Others suggested including the hub in plans for the Suffolk Business Park at Moreton Hall.
Some members of the public were concerned about the £50,000 retainer fee the council has already paid to secure land at the Hollow Road Farm site.
“If the decision is not to go for Hollow Road Farm site, how much is the council going to be out of pocket?” one audience member asked.
Some were worried that the councils’ previous preferred site at Hollow Road Farm had already been chosen, that the decision was already a “done deal”.
But councillor Matthew Hicks said the was no preferred option at this stage and that the team were keen to hear views, adding: We are in listening mode.”
The consultation runs until February 19. Visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/ws operationalhub.cfm to have your say on the plans.