Objections mount as SEPA warms to bid

Galashiels Community Waste Recycling Centre & Easter Langlee Landfill Site.
Galashiels Community Waste Recycling Centre & Easter Langlee Landfill Site.

Scottish Borders’ Council’s bid to create a £4.8million waste transfer station at the site of the current landfill at Easter Langlee continues to hang in the balance, despite SEPA withdrawing an objection this week.

The environmental watchdog had originally, in September, objected to the plans on the grounds that not enough information on foul and surface water had been released.

However, the information required by SEPA has since been relayed by the council, and this objection has been withdrawn.

And, in his latest letter to planning officer Carlos Clarke, SEPA’s Paul Lewis stated that its second objection, regarding odour and stack heights of the waste, could be withdrawn, subject to “further modelling of the stack height assessment and the inclusion of details of retro-fitting abatement measures and a timescale for such work.”

While SEPA seems to be warming to the application, letters of objection continue to be submitted – 19 by Tuesday of this week – most of them pertaining to the C77 road between Galashiels and Lauder being deemed unfit for purpose.

At Melrose Community Council’s meeting last Wednesday, community councillor Tom Douglas, of Glendearg Farm on the C77, asked for the community council to submit an objection.

He said: “The road is extremely dangerous, and while it is not in the jurisdiction of this community council, we have a duty to bring up what we believe is the Achilles heel of the plans.

“It will not just be bin wagons using the road, it will be five-tonne tippers. I think it is an accident waiting to happen.”

Also airing his objections at the meeting was John Birnie, chairman of the Coopersknowe Residents Association, who also made his feelings clear during last month’s meeting of Galashiels Community Council.

In his letter of objection, he states: “I am lodging an objection to the proposed waste transfer station at Easter Langlee landfill site on the basis that no fundamental change is proposed by SBC to the road infrastructure to the planning application refused four months ago.”

He also mentioned his fears over the ability of nearby Lowood Bridge of handling 40-tonne lorries and said the area was more populated, with more families moving into the Melrose Gait housing estate.

Both Melrose and Galashiels community councils have raised concerns over the suitability of the road, with the latter’s vice-chairman Rick Kenney concluding in the group’s consultation reply: “In essence, the view is that the waste transfer station application is flawed, particularly the transport report, and we object to this and also suggest that the council should be looking for another location.”

Finding another place to put the waste transfer station, however, appears to be problematic.

Facing objectors at the Galashiels meeting last month, Martin Joyce, director of assets and infrastructure at SBC, said a team had looked at all other options – including placing the station at Charlesfield – but Easter Langlee remained their best choice.

He said: “The problem we face is that the landfill site will be full at the end of 2018, so we have to find a solution.

“We could open another landfill site, but this wouldn’t be a cheap thing to do.

“The other option is to move all the waste outwith the Borders – also very expensive.”