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Waste plant go-ahead despite objections

By Elgan Hearn | Mid Wales | Politics | Published:

A bulk recycling facility earmarked for the Abermule Business Park will go ahead – despite villagers’ determined campaign against the project.

Before all seven Powys County Council cabinet members present voted in favour of the facility they were handed 200 letters from protesters.

Wendy Ellis presented the letters to council leader Rosemarie Harris.

Ms Ellis said: “The letters are asking cabinet to please reconsider. We believe building this in our village would be a big mistake.”

Ms Ellis recalled the public meeting held at Abermule Community Centre on December 4 last year when Councillor Harris asked the villagers “where had they been?” during the consultation process.

Ms Ellis added: “PCC did just the bare legal amount to warn the community of its plans. It was brought in under the radar as far as we are concerned.”

“The ACT (Abermule Communities Together) committee is here and as you can see residents of Abermule – we pray for some common sense to prevail.”

Councillor Gareth Pugh asked whether councillors Harris and Stephen Hayes the adult services portfolio holder should be allowed to vote. He said they had been part of a cabinet which backed officers to go ahead with the project at a meeting of the cabinet in February 2017.

Councillor Pugh believed they could have “pre-determined” to pass the scheme.

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But he was told by monitoring officer, Clive Pinney, that there was no conflict of interest as far as he was concerned.

Councillor Phyl Davies, for Highways, Recycling and Assets, said: “As you are all aware we have seen quite a lot of supporting document to support the decision that’s before us today.

“In all fairness. In my two years as a cabinet member I don’t think anything has had quite as much scrutiny or as much air time as this has.

“There have been detailed discussions with members of the public, I am more than happy to move the recommendation to continue with Abermule.”

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Finance portfolio holder, Councillor Aled Davies, said: “The council is under severe financial pressures, we’ve got targets bearing down on us as well.

Convinced

“I remain convinced that we need a unit in Montgomeryshire to make sure we can recycle efficiently.

Councillor Davies pointed to the analysis done by staff of 12 other possible sites, and added: “I’m afraid I have not seen an alternative to Abermule.”

Councillor Phil Pritchard asked why Kirkhamsfield depot in Newtown could not be used for the facility?

Corporate Director for Economy and Environment, Nigel Brinn, answered: “Kirkhamsfield it’s not a viable option for us.

“It’s a large, multi-service depot with significant investment, probably more than meets the eye. Things like fuel storage, work spaces, workshops.

“It’s our biggest depot and we have many officers working from there.

“It would be prohibitively expensive to try and place that facility elsewhere.”

Following the vote, ACT said they would continue their campaign against the facility and that this is “not the end”.

The furore started in August 2018, when the plans for Abermule were passed by just one vote, which started the campaign against the facility.

The council has stressed all along that the facility is to help the authority deal with hitting the Welsh Government recycling targets of 70 per cent by 2024/25 and is “ideally located between the two main population centres of North Powys”, which are Welshpool and Newtown.

Elgan Hearn

By Elgan Hearn
@ElganPowysLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Powys.

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