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Plans for rural recycling centre approved despite ‘nightmare’ warnings

13 Nov 2023 3 minute read
View of Gelliargwellt Uchaf Farm in Gelligaer. Credit: Mcquitty Landscape Design

Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter

A controversial plan to increase storage at a rural recycling site has been approved despite fears of the “detrimental effects on the lives and health of local residents”.

of contamination of surrounding fields and by Caerphilly Council’s planning committee.

More than 100 objections had been lodged against the proposals for Gelliargwellt Uchaf Farm, in Gelligaer, over fears the project would lead to more waste ending up at the site.

The Materials Recycling Facility on the farm “processes and recycles waste” for reuse in materials such as woodchip and soil.

The applicant, Bryn Recycling Ltd, said the proposal would “improve the operations of the existing facility” and “contribute positively to sustainable waste management by enhancing processing of waste and recycling rates”.

At a meeting of Caerphilly Council’s planning committee, on Wednesday (November 8), the firm sought retrospective planning permission to carry out further engineering works at the site.

‘Essential service’

Joe Ayoubkhani, an agent for the applicant, said Bryn Recycling “provides an essential service to the community”.

He said the application had been “rigorously assessed” and had won general support from statutory consultees.

The work would be carried out “a significant distance from any residential properties”, and the applicant “doesn’t seek an increase in the amount of waste handled at the site”, he told the committee.

But objectors have raised concerns about an “intensification of activity at the facility, leading to detrimental effects on the lives and health of residents of Gelligaer and Penybryn”.

Residents also said they feared any works could lead to the “contamination of the surrounding fields” and impacts on a nearby woodland.

St Cattwg ward councillor Ann Gair, representing those objectors at the meeting, told the committee the application site was “once a dairy farm surrounded by beautiful, green landscape” but had become a “massive” industrial operation.

She said “a lot of residents” had complained about noise, dust and the site “encroaching ever closer to their homes”.

People living near the site had been “left wondering when this nightmare is going to end”, Cllr Gair said.

Committee member Andrew Whitcombe was one of several councillors who criticised the applicant for starting work and then applying for retrospective planning permission.

He said he was “quite disappointed” by the move and alleged this was not the first time the applicant had brought matters to the committee retrospectively.

“I’m deeply concerned about the fact that organisations… are not adhering to the planning process,” he told colleagues, adding that he “cannot support this application”.

But Carwyn Powell, a planning officer for the council, reminded the committee a retrospective proposal was “itself… not a reason to oppose the application”, and doing so could leave the council open to a court appeal.

Planning permission was granted, with conditions, after a majority of committee members voted in favour of the application.

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