Consent given despite traffic concerns

A MASSIVE £77 million waste plant operation, to be based at a site off Bolton Road, Manvers, has been approved by Rotherham Council.

Officers waived aside the concerns of local communities about more traffic choking the roads of the Dearne and Don, and the plans were given unanimous approval by the Council’s planning committee.

But before operating company Shanks Group plc is fully in the clear to progress with plans to build the plant by 2014, further sanction must be sought for the part of the site that is Green Belt.

The plans have been referred to the National Planning Casework Unit, who must decide upon the remaining factor and respond within three weeks.

The land concerned is a corner plot of around 7,000 square metres (11 per cent) of the 14-acres plus site, that is otherwise brownfield.

If the casework unit declines to intervene, Rotherham Council has resolved to grant full permission to Shanks to run mechanical biological treatment and anaerobic digestion units on the same site.

After treatment there, nearly half of the waste will end up as a solid recovered fuel, to be used to generate electricity at a new multi-fuel plant to be built by the existing SSE Ferrybridge Power Station.

Financial close on the deal worth over £750 million was reached between 3SE (Shanks Group plc and Scottish and Southern Energy plc) and Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham Councils, prior to the planning committee’s recent decision.

The scheme was initially supported by £77 million through the Government’s Private Finance Initiative. If plans are rubber-stamped, the plant will deal with up to 265,000 tonnes of domestic and commercial waste each year.

The planning meeting was attended by some residents who live close to the proposed site and who spoke out in opposition, voicing particular fears about the lorry traffic that the plant will generate.

Deliveries would be made from 6am to 7pm at the site, that would operate around the clock, with up to 300 wagon movements a day in and out of the premises.

Townships and villages to be affected will include Mexborough, Conisbrough, Denaby, Rawmarsh and Parkgate, Swinton, Hickleton, Goldthorpe, Wath and Brampton.

The main part of the site was once part of the former Manvers Colliery spoil tip and coke works. But it borders the Green Belt within an eco-valley that is being promoted for its natural beauty and wildlife. A nearby RSPB Reserve has recently received funding to expand.

With regard to the Green Belt, the waste unit planning application states that ‘very special circumstances exist which outweigh the harm of inappropriate development partially within the Green Belt’.

Building of the plant would take 28 months then after a testing period, the units would become operational in Spring 2015.

The Shanks’ composting scheme was one of two original proposals for the treatment of waste at the site.

The alternative incinerator plan was vetoed last year.

But while celebrating their victory on that score, local campaigners within the non-political Dearne Valley AIM (Against Incineration at Manvers) vowed to keep fighting on grounds of traffic and other environmental issues.

Bolton resident Sue Sharp said: “We just don’t feel that this is the best site for a development of this nature.”