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Arpley Landfill victory was worth the wait
8:00am Friday 8th February 2013 in News
IT has been described as the neighbour from hell and compared to a home with a permanent ASBO.
But after more than two years of campaigning, residents living near Sankey Bridges tip Arpley finally got the news they were hoping for.
The development management committee voted unanimously last Wednesday to reject plans for the landfill site to continue accepting rubbish until 2025.
Nearly 200 people filled the Parr Hall for the meeting as nine speakers, including Warrington South MP David Mowat, councillors and chairmen of residents groups, outlined their arguments against the plans.
Smells, health issues and traffic were highlighted as some of the main concerns while resident John Boyle, representing the nearby Saxon Park estate, called for a 'clean place to raise families’ which he said would ‘never be achieved while our neighbours operate the way they do’.
The result from the meeting could have been very different after Matthew Hayes, who represented the owners of the tip, called for the decision to be deferred.
The FCC spokesman, formerly known as Waste Recycling Group, said he had ‘serious concerns over the process’ and a legal letter had been sent to the council last Monday after the company became ‘frustrated’ with the council for not replying to them.
He said: “There have been repeated requests for background papers since April and we would expect the council to follow their own guidance.
“The community doesn’t have accurate information to make a decision and if the council had engaged with us we could have addressed concerns.”
Councillors dismissed the argument as ‘nit-picking’ before questioning why remedial action had not yet been undertaken in preparation for the company leaving the site in October 2013 when the current licence expires.
Speaking after the meeting, Arpley Landfill Opposition Group member Norman Crompton thanked everyone who had helped oppose the plan.
He added: “This first step was our victory and we must all now wait and see what FCC will do next.
“We hope they will consider their position wisely and decide ‘enough is enough’ and bow out with some grace and integrity but if not then we will fight on and hard.”
THE council were slammed by Arpley tip bosses during last week’s meeting after claims repeated requests for information had been ignored.
Matthew Hayes, who was representing FCC formerly known as Waste Recycling Group, said they had received no response from Freedom of Information requests, which should be replied to within three weeks, or letters dating back to April last year.
A council spokesman said: “A letter from the applicant is being considered in line with our usual procedures and a full response will of course be provided.
“What we can say is that we have no evidence to suggest that the claims made have any substance and no record whatsoever of requests being made by the applicant or their agent to the planning department under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Many now expect a legal battle from FCC in the form of an appeal and public inquiry but a spokesman said the company had not yet decided their next move.
He added: “It is regrettable that the council refused our request to defer the planning decision.
“We will now take time to reflect and consider our options before deciding on our next action.”
MANY have welcomed the development management committee’s decision to reject plans to extend the life of Arpley tip.
Parliamentary spokesman for Warrington South Labour Nick Bent, who spoke at the meeting, said: "It was a good day for local democracy, showing that in Warrington south politicians of all parties can unite in a mature and positive way to support local residents.”
Liberal Democrat councillors Trudi Wood and Keith Gleave also expressed their delight at the decision while Clr Bob Barr, a member of the committee, said he could not understand the applicants’ ‘apparent naivety.’
He added: “There were overwhelming planning reasons to refuse the application yet they came to the meeting with a last minute legal challenge to some minor aspects of the handling of the application rather than explaining how they would satisfy residents.”