Friday, May 02, 2008

Spaldington Composter's Planning Application Thrown Out!

At the meeting yesterday (1st May 2008) of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council's Planning Committee the application by a Spaldington composter/farmer to increase the range of waste materials he could compost and also to increase the days he is allowed to spread compost on his fields was thrown out. This is a committee on which I sit, but because of my involvement in the campaign on behalf of Howdenshire residents I was allowed to speak but NOT to vote. Therefore I would like to thank my fellow members from all parties for their decision.

This is very good news for residents of Spaldington, Eastrington and other communities who have to put up with the stench from this site as it is, without having an already diabolical situation made worse.

I would just like to say that the applicant, through his agent refused to allow me as a member of the Planning Committee to attend the site visit to inspect his operation the day before, I decided not to push this issue, but I do wonder why I was singled out from the rest of the committee? Was it because I have a good basic knowledge of composting and may have asked a difficult question, seen something I shouldn’t have, or had the applicant got something to hide. If everything was in order and above board what had he to fear? I will leave it for you to decide…..

I am led to believe from members that the applicant had made a special effort to clean his facility as some ‘photographers’ were due on site. Residents confirmed this cleaning had been continuing the previous day. It is also alleged that compost had been recently been moved from the composting sheds to the maturation heaps in the fields.

Many remember the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001, when it was later found the origins of the disease came from contaminated meat products in pigswill, a process which is now banned. So my question here was: Why was a farmer hoping to bring into our communities those self and same ingredients once used in this now banned process, from other parts of the country to be introduced into this composing process?

Let’s be clear here…. This application was a request by a composter to increase the ingredients he takes in to include; starch products, beef burgers, fleece trimmings, pet food by-products, bakery products including pizza, tannery scrapings, prawn shells and sewage sludge. This is from a farmer who raises livestock on the same site. I cannot comprehend the sense in even thinking about doing this - and neither could the Planning Committee.

Local MP David Davis adds:

“I am delighted at this result. It will be a relief to the people of the surrounding area. I hope it will be reflected in other planning decisions of this nature.”


Wendy McKay said...

Firstly, I would like to thank the councillors on the planning committee for refusing the planning application. I am so pleased that the councillors were able to see through the charade of the freshly washed shed, and instead based their judgement on the appalling stench that one normally encounters when driving past the premises.

Secondly, I would like to thank Paul Robinson for all the time and effort he has put into investigating and raising awareness of the problems caused by waste composting when it is not carried out correctly.

As the Spaldington resident who volunteered to speak on behalf of all those objecting to the planning application, I tried to include in my presentation as many of the points about which people have concerns as was possible in the 5 minutes permitted. Addressing the councillors on the planning committee, I said:

“The stench from the current composting activities already makes our everyday lives intolerable; if it gets any worse, no-one will be able to live in Spaldington any more. Some people are already trying to move, but how can we sell our houses? Would YOU buy a house in an area with such an awful smell? Our homes as well as our lives are now blighted by this composting.

Businesses which other people have set up to diversify from farming, are also being adversely affected by the stench from the composting. Would YOU want to ride at the local stables, play golf, stay in a caravan or spend a day fishing, with that awful smell in the air?

People are also worried about the health implications. What bugs and disease spores are in the air with that vile stench? It is causing asthma attacks and making people, especially children feel sick. Since hearing that a Cheshire dairy farmer (who was suffering an abnormally high level of miscarriage in his cows) had won a court case against the next door composter, people with cattle and horses around here have become increasingly concerned. The water draining from the fields where the compost heaps are stored is black, slimy and smelly. This water then flows in ditches past other people’s homes and through other people’s fields.

At the end of last week the smell was atrocious because they appeared to be emptying all the compost out of the shed, presumably in order to get it out of the way before the inspection yesterday. Even the Environment Agency officer who came out to check the odour complaints and substantiated the event was complaining that the smell got into her car and was on her clothes for the rest of the day. This is what WE have to put up with nearly every day of the year.

We are very concerned that many of the current planning conditions do not appear to be being enforced. Compost production is supposed to only take place inside the building, yet we have maturation heaps in the fields near our homes, where the compost is turned over and moved with a crawler tractor or teleporter, exacerbating the stench. These heaps are the main source of the odour problems experienced by people living in Spaldington village. There is no provision for containing the smell from these heaps, presumably because their existence was never mentioned on the first composting planning application! The air extraction and filtration system providing the odour control in the composting shed described in the composting operations statement is quite frankly, a joke. If the four large fans in the roof actually changed the volume of air in the shed every 32 minutes as claimed, the whole building would implode, the water tank would be blown up and the wood chip filters would go into orbit! Seriously, if the composting shed had an adequate and functioning odour management system, the stench for people unfortunate enough to live nearby and on the Holme road ought to be drastically reduced. The awful smell which is obvious to everyone who drives past on the road shows that whatever odour management system is in place, it is totally ineffective.

We hope that the volume of mail you have received objecting to this planning application, the petition of 257 signatures, together with the number of us (there are 17 of us here today) who have taken time off work and given up our morning to be present at this meeting shows the strength of opposition to this waste composting due to the appalling stench we have to suffer day after day, whenever the wind is blowing in our direction. People from a quiet country village do not protest in these sorts of numbers unless there is a problem, a BIG problem.

Our lives have been blighted ever since this composting business started. Please do what you can to stop it. Please refuse the planning application."

Anonymous said...

Well done Paul for all your hard work in, at least preventing the situation getting worse. Spaldington already enjoys the dubious claim to fame as the composting centre of the UK surrounded by farmers taking advantage of this lucrative, Government encouraged gravy train.
Perhaps you could find out two pieces of information? What percentage of agricultural land in Howdenshire is put over to this process and where is all the waste that is ruining our lives coming from?

Paul Robinson said...

Thanks for that. To establish the amount of land in Howdenshire on which compost is spread would be very difficult as some composters do not have planning permission. The origin of the waste is also very difficult for the same reason and the information would be commercially sensitive. But I have been provided with copies of delivery notes obtained under the freedom of information act, showing over 100 tonnes of pet food waste was brought into Howdenshire within a 10 day period.... from Northamptonshire!