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Residents have their say on waste sites and policies - 16.12.09

A major public consultation looking at planning policies and potentially suitable development sites for waste treatment facilities has attracted more than 1,200 responses.

Local residents, waste industry operators, land owners and Government departments all made the most of this important opportunity to express their views and influence future planning policy.

The consultation centred around a draft of the South London Waste Plan – a planning document being prepared by Sutton Council in partnership with the neighbouring boroughs of Merton, Kingston and Croydon. Once approved, this Plan will identify sites across the four boroughs that are suitable for the development of waste treatment facilities and will establish a set of robust policies against which planning applications for future facilities are assessed.

Along with the 1,200 responses received, an additional 200 people attended one of four public workshops whilst planning officers accepted all 35 invitations to hold face-to-face discussions with local resident groups and organisations.

Summary of findings - Policies

The consultation first asked respondents to consider the planning policies contained within the draft Plan. Once approved, these policies will be the guidelines against which any future planning applications for waste treatment facilities will be considered.

A large proportion of respondents said it was important that there is continued encouragement to reduce and recycle as much of our waste as possible, thereby reducing the need for treatment plants that deal with residual (non-recyclable) waste

A considerable number of respondents made reference to the 'unacceptable behaviour' of existing waste operators and wanted reassurance that the South London Waste Plan would have 'real teeth' to deal with private sector operators in the future

Some residents felt it was difficult to comment on the suitability of individual sites without knowing what waste treatment technologies were being proposed. A number also wanted more information on how emissions, dust and smells would be controlled

The movement of waste attracted some interest, with participants keen for more sustainable forms of transport, such as rail or water, to be considered

Some asked for reassurance in the Plan that there would be no old-fashioned, mass burn incineration of waste on any of the sites, while others highlighted the benefits of clean incineration, particularly if it was used to generate electricity for local use.

Summary of findings - Sites

The consultation then went on to consider a shortlist of 28 sites (whittled down from an original 'long list' of almost 140 sites) across the four boroughs that are considered potentially suitable for future waste treatment facilities.

Concerns expressed around individual sites included increases in pollution, perceived health risks, contamination of land and waterways, noisy and disruptive heavy lorry movements, traffic congestion and adverse effect on property values

Some participants wondered whether the sites were fairly distributed across the four boroughs

Some residents who live in the immediate vicinity of existing waste treatment facilities expressed concerns about further development on those sites.

This wealth of feedback will now be carefully considered by planning officers and will influence the recommendations made in the final draft of the South London Waste Plan.

Additional Sites

In addition to commenting on the suitability of the 28 shortlisted sites, respondents also had the opportunity to put forward sites that had, to date, not been considered (i.e. were not contained in the original long list of 140 sites). A total of eight new sites were suggested by residents, landowners and waste operators for consideration:

Land west of Hawkhurst Road, Croydon

Open area of land adjacent to Chessington Garden Centre, Kingston

Land to the south of Silverglade Business Park, Kingston

Land at the Hogsmill Valley, Kingston

Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, Merton

Former gravel extraction works sites (the old Cemex site), Beddington Farmlands, Sutton

Wandle Valley Trading Estate, Hackbridge, Sutton

Land to the north of Jessop's Way, Beddington, Sutton

No decisions have yet been made on the suitability of these sites for waste management purposes. Subject to approval by each of the four borough's Executive and Cabinet Committees, the suitability of these additional eight sites will now be investigated by planning officers using the same robust assessment criteria that were employed to analyse the original long list of 140 sites. This will be followed in February 2010 by an additional six weeks of public consultation, during which residents and other interested parties will be able to read the results of the planning officers' investigations and make their own comments on the suitability of the eight sites.

Cllr Lyn Gleeson, Executive Member for Planning on Sutton Council, said:

"This is consultation as it should be. We have listened carefully to the views expressed by residents and other stakeholders during the consultation period and we are now acting on the information received. Subject to approval by the four boroughs involved, in February next year residents will - for the third time - have an opportunity to get involved in the development of the South London Waste Plan.

"I am delighted that feedback from residents and other stakeholders is playing such a critical role in the development of this important planning document. Their contributions will be taken into serious consideration when drafting the final version."

The South London Waste Plan will be published in the autumn/winter of 2010 before being submitted to the Secretary of State for examination by an independent planning inspector, which will take place in 2011.

Cllr Gleeson added:

"It is critically important that the South London Waste Plan is robust and reflects the views of local people. If not, there is a much greater chance that the Plan will be deemed 'unsound' by the independent planning inspector and then we'll be back to the drawing board."

Further details of how residents can get involved in the proposed consultation considering the additional eight sites (to be launched in February 2010) will be announced in January.

Last updated: Wednesday, 16 December 2009

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