Hazardous waste plant to operate for longer

A temporary waste treatment plant in Wolverhampton that handles tonnes of contaminated and hazardous soil products has been given permission to extend the terms of its operation, despite protests.

Dunton Environmental Limited in Union Mill Street, Horseley Fields, Wolverhampton. Photo: Google Street View
Dunton Environmental Limited in Union Mill Street, Horseley Fields, Wolverhampton. Photo: Google Street View

Dunton Environmental Limited in Horseley Fields was first granted planning permission to begin work in May 2015 – on condition all its operational activities ceased by September 18, 2020, and the land was cleared.

The council-owned site in Union Mill Street has been earmarked for residential development by Manchester-based real estate firm Placefirst, which is why a time-restriction was initially placed on its use.

However, city council planners this week approved the company’s request to continue operating as a waste treatment hub until September 18 this year.

Six people had submitted objections to the application citing a number of reasons – above all the fact that the plant receives substantial amounts of hazardous waste, and the soil arrives from significant distances away.

Further objections included concerns over air pollution, traffic congestion and the impact of noise on surrounding residential properties.

Councillor Roger Lawrence told planning committee members: “I have no objection to the principle of this because I was involved in the discussions around the original proposals to use this piece of land and to get it remediated over a period of time.

“My concern is that at the time I thought we were generous in terms of the amount of time given. I don’t know why there wasn’t some kind of fixed penalty clause on the deal.

“Allowing it to go forward again, I do want to have assurances that there is going to be an end to this because we have been more than generous. I have some concerns that it’s time to close down this usage and move on to the next phase of the regeneration.”

Senior planning officer Philip Walker said: “I agree with Councillor Lawrence here that we do need this site to come forward. It’s absolutely key to our aspirations to transform the city and bring in a lot more residential use.

“We were gearing up to see Dunton’s implement the remediation and begin leaving the site at the start of last year.

“Obviously the Covid-19 situation arose, which meant Dunton’s carried on working. It’s a council-owned site and parties within the council were happy for that to continue for a further 12-month period.

“We have got the Placefirst application in now – and have done since November – so that does put an onus on Dunton’s to start actually thinking about leaving the site and carrying out the clean-up so it’s suitable for residential use,” he added.

“The conditions that I have put in place do require Dunton’s to start thinking about moving things off the site and cleaning up from June. We would expect that to be completed by the end of September and that would tie in with what Placefirst are looking to do in terms of their start dates.”

Mr Walker said he would keep committee members informed of progress on the site.

The land, formerly the site of the now demolished Edward Vaughan Stamping Works, is located less than a mile east of Wolverhampton city centre. Part of it falls within the Union Mill Conservation Area.

The recommendation to approve permission was moved by planning committee chairman Councillor Keith Inston and seconded by Councillor Phil Page.

All members voted in favour of the application with the exception of Councillor Lawrence who abstained.

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