Controversial plans for a waste transfer station to replace the landfill site at Galashiels next year have been given the go-ahead by councillors.
Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee rejected proposals for the £4.8m facility at Easter Langlee by five votes to two in April on road safety grounds.
However, on Monday a new incarnation of the committee followed the advice of planning officers and approved a revised application.
The facility, intended to prepare more than 40,000 tonnes of household waste a year for transfer outwith the region, will be brought into use after the closure of the landfill site when it reaches capacity in 2018.
This time around, the application included extra improvements to the C77 road leading to it as the road’s suitability was one of the main issues raised by objectors.
However, the plans remain unpopular with nearby residents, many of whom attended this week’s meeting.
Objector Norman Young told the committee: “Council officers are aware of the dangers of the road. They state these in the reports, yet ignore them.
“The second application is no different to the first that was turned down.
“We are all for a recycling centre if done in the right place.”
The road improvement measures promised consist of increased street lighting along part of the route, minor widening in places, improved and enhanced signage, and a modified junction arrangement where the site access road meets the C77.
Derek Inglis, the council’s lead roads planning officer said: “Clearly there are issues on the C77. There is no getting away from that.
“Having said that, it is a 30mph road, and what I have got to be very mindful of is that obviously there are landfill operations going on at the site just now.
“We are looking at what the difference could be with regards to the waste transfer site in relation to what is going on just now.”
The site will see 88 lorry movements along the road a day, up from 82 at present, as lorries currently bringing waste from transfer centres in Hawick and Peebles will no longer travel to Easter Langlee.
Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison visited the site on Monday to see for himself how busy the road was on an average morning, and he said: “I wanted myself to see what the statistics said.
“They seem reasonably in line with the figures given in the paper. These are the statistics collected myself to satisfy my own troubled conscience.
“I am now reasonably clear in my own mind on that but am prepared to look to and listen to my fellow councillors.
“I can assure you there are 1,000 places I would rather be this morning than sitting with such a controversial application before me, but I can now say I am happy to support the proposal.”
However, fellow ward councillor Andy Anderson, failed to be swayed and raised an amendment to go against the recommendations based on the grounds of the C77’s suitability.
He said: “I don’t really see what material changes we have from what was being proposed before.
“I was hoping to be convinced by the arguments in relation to improvements on the C77 but I don’t really see them so far, to be honest.”
Speaking after his amendment failed to garner a seconder, he added: “I am a bit disappointed. I was the one lone objector.
“I did feel with some of my objections that some of the other councillors did have the same feelings, but they did seem to have had their fears allayed by the officers.”
Construction could begin this month and be completed by August next year.
Coopersknowe Residents’ Association chairman John Birnie added: “There is no mention of health and safety in regards of the council workers who have to walk and cycle to work and currently cut through the estate rather than use that road.
“It’s so unsafe that the school bus stop had to be withdrawn from Coopersknowe Crescent.”
Mr Inglis also told councillors: “There has been a lot of mention of accidents on the road. What the council looks at in terms of road safety is to look at accidents where there has been injury, but we are quite aware that there are other accidents too.
“There have been only four accidents which have caused injury on the road in the last 13 years, with three of those taking place before the 30mph speed limit was introduced in late 2008.
“There is a degree of worthwhile road improvements proposed.”
“The widening being proposed is very minor.”