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Eco park planning decision delayed over HSE health concerns

Surrey County Council has delayed a planning decision on Sita’s Charlton Lane eco-park following Health and Safety Executive (HSE) concerns that proper health and safety procedures have not been accounted for.

In an e-mail seen by MRW, the HSE comments that it is “unable to support the current proposals, with respect to the health and safety of staff and the general public visiting the site” for Sita’s 144,000 tonne eco-park on Charlton Lane, Middlesex, which includes gasification and anaerobic digestion technology.

The e-mail was sent as part of a consultation on the site’s environmental permit application. It said: “The proposals submitted do not include any information on the fire and explosion hazards associated with the dangerous substances handled or produced by the [gasification] process and no hazard analysis or risk assessment is presented to demonstrate how the safety of the staff and visitors will be ensured.

“Some of the safety measures will depend on the final design and operation of the gasification unit but some will depend on the plant and building construction and need to be considered at an early stage as part of the building and site proposals.”

Surrey County Council has now postponed a meeting of the planning committee, which was due to take place on 8 March, in order for Sita to provide further paperwork to support its application.

In a letter sent to Surrey County Council ahead of the cancelled planning committee meeting, legal representatives acting on behalf of local opposition group Lower Sunbury Residents’ Association stated:“Neither the planning application, nor SCC Officer’s report to the Committee, adequately addresses new evidence from the HSE as to fire, explosion and toxic risk, inadequacy of design and layout safeguards and inadequacy of risk assessment relating to the eco-park’s proposed gasification plant.

“Both issues give rise to serious concerns both as to the adequacy of assessments undertaken so far concerning the appropriateness of this proposed development, and as to the legality of any decision the Committee may reach to grant planning permission.”

Sita UK planning manager Gareth Phillips said: “The Health and Safety Executive has requested additional information regarding our plans to build an eco-park at Charlton Lane and therefore the committee date for the plans to be determined has been deferred. We are working to provide the requested information so that a new committee date can be set as soon as possible.”

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