Dozens of objections over ‘town centre’ waste site

Friday March 8th 2024

Engine Road Lonahead

Waste transfer facility on Engine Road, Loanhead, is too close to school say objectors.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A waste facility in a Midlothian town could have ‘disastrous consequences” for the health of local residents if allowed to operate on contaminated land, it has been claimed.

Dozens of objections have been lodged with Midlothian Council over the operation of the waste processing site in Loanhead on a former town centre scrap yard.

A retrospective planning application for the change of use of the site is due to be heard by elected members next week after councillor leader Kelly Parry, a local ward member for the town, called it in for a decision.

But while officers are recommending the application for approval, Loanhead and District Community Council has raised serious concerns over the impact on local residents of disturbing the grounds of the former mining site.

In an objection to the council, they say: “The site encompasses two shafts of the former Ramsay Colliery and is an area of high contamination.

“This contamination needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency to protect the health of Loanhead residents.

“It is unimaginable that Midlothian Council Planning Department is seriously considering permitting a waste transfer site to operate on a seriously contaminated site, fully knowing that any disturbance to the ground surface area could and probably would, disturb underground gases and have very serious implications to the known levels of contamination resulting in disastrous consequences for human health.”

A report from planning officers which goes to councillors next week says the site’s industrial history predates the housing which has built up around it adding that the scrap yard, which operated for more than 50 years also pre-dated “modern environmental standards.

They say: “The former uses are likely to have resulted in contaminants such as engine oil leaching into the ground.

“The majority of the ground surface within the site will remain undisturbed and no buildings are proposed as part of the application.

“The council’s senior manager protective services has recommended that conditions be used to secure site investigations to assess contaminated land and, if required, to secure remediation or mitigation works at locations within the site where any new areas of hard surface are to be formed.”

The council received 26 individual objections which raised concerns over the impact of traffic in and out of the site, the centre being in close proximity to schools and a call for it to be moved to a more industrial location away from housing.

Enviroworx who are operating the waste processing site has pointed out it is not a new facility but a relocation of their operations on the site to a more efficient area.

In their supporting statement to councillors in response to concerns they say: “A commitment to environmental sustainability, community benefit, and operational efficiency drives our planning application.

“We understand and respect the concerns of our stakeholders and are committed to open, transparent dialogue to address these concerns.

“Our proposal, focusing on recycling and community engagement, represents a positive step forward for Enviroworx and the Loanhead community.”

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