Attleborough fuel depot plan scrapped
Stephanie BrooksControversial plans to build a fuel depot at an Attleborough business park have been scrapped following an outpouring of objections from town councillors, traders and residents.Stephanie Brooks
Controversial plans to build a fuel depot at an Attleborough business park have been scrapped following an outpouring of objections from town councillors, traders and residents.
Rix Petroleum (East Anglia) Ltd had submitted proposals to relocate from its current site in nearby Besthorpe to the new Victory Business Park, owned by Breckland Council.
Breckland was due to sell the park's largest plot to the company, a subsidiary of J R Rix and Sons, so it could build a depot to store diesel and gas oil.
But the council has now pulled out of the deal on the back of strong opposition from Attleborough residents, who believed the depot would be hazardous and unsuitable for a business park, leaving Rix Petroleum no choice but to withdraw its plans this week.
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The news was welcomed by Attleborough Town Mayor Geoff Farrow, who said: 'We're delighted that the application was withdrawn. We felt it was an unsuitable site for a heavy industry. We want more small and medium sized businesses on the park.'
Resident Steve Hall, who helped collect a 600-signature petition against the plans, said: 'I wish Rix well and hope they manage to find another site, but in this case common sense has prevailed. It shows that if businesses, residents, the town council and district councillors work together we can influence this process which is sometimes very difficult.'
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Rix Petroleum had said its future depended on the relocation so it could ensure stock levels and continue to supply its 9,000 customers in light of the closure of the Ipswich terminal.
The company had hoped to turn people's opinions on its plans at a public meeting in April, but instead heard threats from nearby traders that they would consider leaving Attleborough if they moved in.
Despite the negativity, director Rory Beath said Breckland's actions had come as a 'surprise'.
He said: 'The council decided not to sell us the land. We had been looking for a site for five years. It's a case of not in my back yard although most people who were vocal at the meeting were our customers.
'If residents don't want us there we will take it on the chin and move on.'
He said Rix Petroleum had lost about �20,000 in trying to move onto the business park, into which the company would have invested �750,000. The firm is now looking for an alternative location.
Mark Kiddle Morries, executive member for economic and commercial services at Breckland Council, confirmed the authority had declined to sell the land to Rix Petroleum.
'We felt that this site was not appropriate for the intended use having considered the strength of opinion during the consultation with people in the town.
'We are however keen to help them find a suitable site in the district and our economic development team are working closely with the company to facilitate this.'