Recycling complaint thrown out

A REQUEST to move recycling facilities at a Galashiels landfill site has been thrown out, writes Kenny Paterson.

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Jim Martin refused to uphold the complaint that aggregate recycling activities at the site off the C77 Langshaw road should have planning consent.

The case was originally brought against the council by Coopersknowe and Easter Langlee Residents’ Association, whose homes are nearby, because of the noise and disturbance caused by recycling at the site.

However, it was an un-named individual, called Mr C in the report, who launched the complaint with the ombudsman.

SBC claimed in 2008 its recycling activities did not require planning permission, as consent was granted in 1985.

Mr Martin said: “However, Mr C refuted this and said AR (aggregate recycling activities) was being carried out on land that under previous planning consents should be maintained as agricultural land for animal grazing purposes.

“He said that the AR was a commercial activity, unrelated to household materials and composting activities, and that planning consent should have been sought.

“He acknowledged that efforts had been (and continued to be) made to minimise the disturbance and nuisance caused by AR, but he said these did not address the key complaint and he wished the AR activity moved.”

Mr C also complained that SBC had delayed responses to his queries and had not established the facts as appropriate under its complaints procedure.

However, Mr Martin said the 26 years since the council obtained planning permission, and the loss of part of a file, made it difficult to support Mr C’s view.

He added: “We found evidence that the council had addressed Mr C’s concerns about AR – although we acknowledge, not to his satisfaction. We considered that the council exercised professional judgement in this matter and relied on the 1985 consent as being applicable to current AR activities. There is no documented evidence that the AR activities required planning consent and/or that the council overlooked or ignored this issue.

“Subsequently, there is no evidence that the council failed to ensure that the AR activities had planning consent.”

But Mr Martin did recommend SBC regularise permission for the landfill site to ensure it covers all activity with appropriate planning conditions.