Waste fuel plant plans by the River Wensum are thrown out by council

Atlas Works in Lenwade. Photo: Google Maps

Atlas Works in Lenwade. Photo: Google Maps - Credit: Google Maps

Councillors have thrown out a bid to build a waste processing power plant just metres away from the River Wensum.

Atlas Works in Lenwade. Photo: Google Maps

Atlas Works in Lenwade. Photo: Google Maps - Credit: Google Maps

The scheme would have seen the disused SPC Atlas Works warehouse site on Norwich Road, Weston Longville, near Lenwade, converted to a plant producing refuse-derived fuel (RDF) with an annual throughput of 150,000 tonnes.

Norfolk County Council's planning committee considered the application at a meeting at County Hall in Norwich today (Friday, March 31), but it was refused by nine votes to six.

Councillor Brian Long put forward the motion to refuse based on potential impact on the Wensum and an ancient Saxon burial grove in the grounds of a nearby property called The Warren.

Paul Webb, who lives at The Warren, said he was thrilled at the refusal.

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Mr Webb said: 'How this site was every considered in the first place beggars belief.

'The Warren is a magical place and it shouldn't be compromised in any way. Had this application been accepted it would have been.'

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Mr Webb told the committee there would be a significant risk of a blaze at the site, which would have led to polluted water from firefighters contaminating the Wensum.

He said: 'Statistics demonstrate that fires continue to occur at waste sites unacceptable levels. I wonder what the unqualifiable cost to the environment is?'

'There is a very real risk of fires occurring at waste sites.

'Refuse derived fuel is highly flammable. It is designed to burn.'

Other objections

An number of others also made the case against the plan to the committee, over fears including the contamination of groundwater and traffic problems.

The objectors included George Youngs, general manager of green energy at Bernard Matthews, which supplies a nearby turkey farm and factory with water from eight bore holes within 700m of the 2.1ha site.

Mary Bishop, who along with her husband Tim rents out 14 of the 17 business units at the nearby Shepherds Business Park, also spoke out against it.

Mrs Bishop said after the decision: 'We're very relieved for our tenants.'

The potential impact on the Marriott's Way foot and cycle path was another concern.

But the council's officers had recommended councillors approve the plan, and it was pointed out the operation would be subject to a bespoke Environment Agency permit covering matters including noise, odour, dust and fire risk.

And Russell Hirst, representing the applicant, said concerns that the plant would be a 'blight on the landscape' were 'mostly based on a fear of the unknown'.

He said: 'The Atlas Works waste management site will be well-managed by a professional business.'

Not the first attempt

The application was considered by the council last October, but a decision was deferred pending a fire risk assessment.

The Atlas Works site was built in the 1970s and has been empty since 2007.

The application proposed that up to 100,000 tonnes of the throughput would have been commercial and industrial waste and 50,000 tonnes of household 'black bag waste' would have also been available at the site either for bulking ahead of treatment elsewhere.

The council received 50 representations about the scheme, and 41 of those were objections.

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