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Public speaks out as Able's bid is considered

Concerns were voiced this week as the process began of deciding whether Able UK could recycle its 13 former US Navy ships in Hartlepool.

Members of the public turned out in force to speak to the authorities considering Able's applications for planning permission and a waste management licence.

Unless the firm secures both documents, it can not start work on the four vessels it holds in Hartlepool, and faces a legal challenge to its bid to import the other nine.

The Environment Agency (EA) started considering the waste-management licence application this week, and met local people in Hartlepool.

An EA spokesman said: "There was a high level of interest, we met more than 50 people on the first night and there are two more to come.

"Lots of people were concerned but we hope we reassured many of them and they went away feeling a bit better."

Hartlepool Borough Council, which is deciding whether to grant Able planning permission, was also represented at the open sessions.

Assistant director of planning Stuart Green said: "Given the high level of public interest in the Able UK proposals, we want to give people every opportunity to find out as much as possible.

"The drop-in sessions are over and above the usual consultation process, which demonstrates the council and the EA's commitment to public involvement on this issue."

It seems unlikely that Able UK will secure either licence before August, and the wait could go on much longer.

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