PLANS to turn the landfill site at Easter Langlee into a giant waste transfer station (WTS) are set to be given the green light next week.
Scottish Borders Council’s lead planning officer Carlos Clarke is recommending approval of the £5.2m development to the local authority’s quasi-judicial planning committee which meets at Newtown on Monday.
If the nod is given by the nine-strong committee, tenders for the construction of the facility – from where 52,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste will be annually transported out of the region for treatment – will be invited in the summer.
And a licence will be sought from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to operate the plant from next year.
Four local residents, along with the Coopersknowe Residents’ Association, have objected, citing their fears for the impact of increased heavy lorry movements on the C77 (Langshaw) road which links the site to Melrose Road in Galashiels.
But in his report to councillors, Mr Clarke refers to a transport statement drawn up by council-hired consultants.
“It predicts there would be six extra vehicle movements per day of which five would be articulated lorries when compared with existing traffic to the landfill site,” states Mr Clarke.
“This amounts to 88 movements per day, of which 14 would be artics, as opposed to 82 and nine respectively for the landfill site. This increase in traffic is not considered to be significant.”
Mr Clarke also notes that a major stumbling block to the development – an objection from SEPA which had demanded more information about the odour and traffic noise impact of the new facility – has now been removed.
“The submitted odour management plan identifies that odour may be released during construction when the ground is excavated,” says Mr Clarke.
“It includes mitigation measures such as no working in evenings, weekends or bank holidays and accounts for weather conditions,” said Mr Clarke. "It is considered these measures are sufficient to mitigate the odour impacts during construction.”
With regard to odour omissions once the WTS is up and running, Mr Clarke states: “During the majority of the time…all waste transfer, handling and storage operations will be enclosed, during which time the air will be extracted via two chimney stacks. Release of odour will be overcome by automated fast acting roller shutter doors which will close behind vehicles as they enter and leave.”
Mr Clarke says the impact of traffic noise has been assessed with “no significant effect” predicted.
He stressed that the operating hours of the WTS, which will be controlled under licensing, will be from 7am till 7pm, Monday to Friday.
In a letter to Mr Clarke, SEPA’s senior planning officer Paul Lewis states: “Further information, detail and clarification have subsequently been provided…and, in view of this, we are able to withdraw our objection.”
The council has until 2021 to comply with a Scottish Government ban on all biodegradable waste going to landfill.
A deal with a private company to meet this target via an advanced thermal treatment (ATT) plant at Easter Langlee was scrapped two years ago, with the council forced to write off £2.4m.