A residents’ association in Galashiels is to fight new plans by Scottish Borders Council to build a regional waste transfer station (WTS) on the outskirts of the town.
The council is seeking consent from its own quasi-judicial planning committee for the £4.8m facility at the Easter Langlee landfill site, having failed with a similar bid in April.
The committee rejected that proposal, citing the inadequacy of the steep and twisting C77 access road – which also serves large housing developments at Coopersknowe and Melrose Gait – in safely coping with the projected 88 HGV movements a day generated by the WTS.
With the landfill site due to reach capacity next year and with a Scottish Government ban on all biodegradable waste going to landfill set for 2021, the council must find an alternative solution for the estimated 40,000 tonnes of household and municipal waste collected annually in the region.
Despite suggestions from the committee that an alternative site for the WTS, with easier access to the trunk road network, should be considered, the council has, instead, commissioned a new transport impact report from a firm of consultants in support of the Easter Langlee option.
That document recommends a package of measures, including the “localised widening” on the C77, improved road signage and the removal of trees which instruct visibility.
And it concludes: “There are no transport-related issues preventing the award of planning consent”.
John Birnie, chair of the Coopersknowe Residents Association, said this week that this assessment “beggared belief” and that his organisation would object to the planning bid in the strongest terms.
“These measures will do nothing to placate the serious road safety concerns of residents,” said Mr Birnie.
“In the past 10 years, the local population has gone from virtually nothing to around 1,500 with many more new houses in the pipeline.
At the same time, there have been a plethora of road accidents and near misses involving HGVs using the landfill site.
“It is only a matter of time until we have a fatality, yet the council thinks this site, which has caused traffic chaos and dust and odour nuisance for years, is an appropriate location for a transfer station from which 40 tonne lorries will transport waste out of the Borders.
“I hope the planning committee will not be swayed by deadlines which the council is struggling to meet through its own incompetence.”
A council spokesperson told The Southern:: “Following refusal of the WTS application in April, officers considered all the options available to mitigate road safety issues.
“The council is confident it can progress a waste transfer station at Easter Langlee before the landfill site reaches its capacity in 2018 and is also confident it can meet its obligations ahead of the landfill ban in 2021.”
If the planning bid, due to be considered by the committee in October, is successful, construction of the WTS will begin in November with completion set for August, 2018.