Scotland’s environmental watchdog is opposing plans by Scottish Borders Council to build a £5.2m waste transfer station on the outskirts of Galashiels.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency is basing its objection to the proposed Easter Langlee plant on what it describes as lack of information, despite several preliminary meetings with the council aimed at resolving potential planning issues.
The council’s own planning committee is due to decide on the application for the facility in April.
If approved, 52,000 tonnes of household and commercial waste a year would be transported out of the region from the site, beginning in 2018.
Current landfill operations at the site are due to be phased out.
In support of its planning bid, the council has commissioned two reports from a firm of consultants.
They claim that noise relating to the station would have a low impact on the nearest neighbours of the site and that there is no risk of it generating significant amounts of unpleasant smells.
The agency, however, takes issue with both reports.
“The noise assessment does not appear to have taken account of the noise from reversing lorries and must be revised to take this into account,” it says.
“We consider the odour assessment should focus on the abatement and reduction of odour emissions rather than focus on modelling which is very uncertain due to its subjective nature.
“We have seen cases where modelling has predicted no odour nuisance where, in reality, there has been an odour nuisance.”
The statutory watchdog also takes exception to the proposed drainage arrangements for the site, claiming: “These are not in line either with discussions between the applicants and us or acceptable practice.”
The agency also disputes a revised transport impact statement commissioned by the council claiming the station would generate just two extra articulated lorry movements per day and concluding: “There are no transport-related issues preventing the award of planning consent.”
An agency spokesman states: “We note in the transport report that the distances from Coopersknowe Crescent and Melrose Gait are given as 500m and 800m respectively. We believe this is incorrect and the distances are actually 310m and 250m respectively.”
The transport study has also angered two residents of nearby homes – Norman Young and Jeanette Scougall, occupants of cottages at the narrowest section of the minor C77 road linking Galashiels to the waste site.
In his letter of objection, Mr Young says: “Having read the revised transport statement, I could not believe my eyes.”
He recalls that at a public meeting last autumn organised in conjunction with the council, those present were told that, from day one of operation at the proposed station, the volume of articulated lorries would double or even treble.
“Somehow, the numbers have changed,” he says.
“Our feelings are that this report is very much one-sided to enable planning permission to be granted.”
Mrs Scougall writes: “The revised transport statement is painting a picture of how everything is rosy on the C77 road.
“We feel this is only in order that the new centre can gain planning permission, and no consideration has been given as to how the large volume of articulated lorries will impact on us as residents.”