Old Oak Lane waste site: the case for and against

5:57pm Sunday 18th November 2012

By Amy Hopkins

PEOPLE in Acton continue to fight plans for a new waste plant off Old Oak Lane, Acton, close to their community.

In the wake of ongoing opposition, including a public protest and road blockade last month, the waste company, Clean Power, has issued a fresh response to the community’s main concerns.

Suitability of the site

Mark Walker, 48, of Stoke Place Road, is a member of The Island Triangle Residents Association, who are leading the campaign.

“The triangle should not become a dumping ground because of politicians and offshore developers who are in a hurry,” he says. 

Mr Walker says 24 other sites were found to be more suitable for waste processing than the proposed site at Freightliner Yard. He argues they should be used first.

Chris White, a spokesman for Clean Power, insists the site wholly accords with policies set out in the London Plan and the Ealing Core Strategy, as well as the government’s national waste policy.
H says Clean Power’s planning application was accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Mr Walker, however, insists that burning food and plastics in a residential area represents a serious long-term pollution risk for residents in Old Oak Lane and beyond.

Odours

The proposed Clean Power site is 400 metres away from an existing recycling plant, Powerday, on the opposite side of Old Oak Lane.

“Residents have first-hand experience, through seven years of odours from the Powerday site, that initial planning controls and operator’s licence cannot stop a waste treatment plant from causing foul odours,” says Mr Walker.

“The two plants will blame each other for bad odours and the Environment Agency will be playing catch-up trying to enforce regulations while residents’ lives will be a misery.”

Mr White says Clean Power has no connection with Powerday and the processes and sizes of the two companies are very different.

He explains: “We do not stockpile waste, like their process does. The schemes are not at all comparable.”

He says Powerday has consent for nearly ten times as much waste as Clean Power’s proposal.

Lorry movements

Clean Power’s plans call for lorries to have access to the site 24 hours a day. Mr White points out there is existing industrial use there and insists the proposed new use will reduce the number of vehicles by 545 per day.

Mr Walker disagrees. “This is again over-optimistic and a skewed figure”, he says. “It assumes all the plant’s feeder vehicles will always be full.” He insists the reality will be more vehicles around the clock.

Some residents’ homes are only metres from the vehicles accessing the site. TITRA say people are already kept up at night by lorries passing their cottages and causing the Victorian buildings to shake. 

“Permitting this development will condemn those residents to these unacceptable conditions indefinitely.” explains Mr Walker.

Mr White insists a full noise and vibration assessment has been submitted in the application.

Consultation

Mr Walker says Clean Power has not engaged with local people, beyond a small exhibition in May and a meeting on June 20, which 26 residents attended.

“When it decided to increase the planned site capacity in October, it didn’t even bother to issue a properly updated planning application,” he says.

Mr White says 2,500 leaflets inviting people to the two-day May exhibition were distributed around the local area and a car was laid on to transport people there.

“All questions are forwarded to the correct professional team member and accurate responses are always provided,” he added. Clean Power’s website, email address, freephone number and a freepost address have been open from the start of the planning process, he says.

The technology that Clean Power plans to use is supported by the Environment Agency and the National Centre of Excellence for Biofuels.

“With the UK waste sector moving forward to catch up with those abroad, there will probably be regular misunderstandings of waste technology types,” says Mr White.

Clean Power has made a video explaining the process, which can be viewed at http://willesdenenergy.info/technical/

“While they have limited, commercially-biased computer simulations to argue their case with, we residents have seven years' experience of experiencing foul odours from waste treatment,” says Mr Walker.

Clean Power encourage any residents who would like further information about the scheme to call (freephone) or email them and will be happy to provide it. All contact details can be found at http://willesdenenergy.info

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