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Successful appeal for Surrey composting plant

A 30,000 tonnes a year composting site, to be built on a former airfield in Wisley, Surrey, has been given the green light following an appeal proving the facility would not pose a risk to neighbouring protected gardens.

Landowners and property firm Wharf Land appealed after Surrey County Council failed to determine the planning application for the plant.

Once built, the facility will process green, kitchen and animal waste. Wharf Land expects the facility will help the council to reach its recycling targets by providing an additional 400,000 of recycling and composting capacity by 2015.

The appeal was led by planning, design and environmental consultancy Terence O’Rourke. Its director Ann Bartaby said: “We are delighted to have been able to assist Wharf Land achieve planning permission for a contentious waste stream in a sensitive location.

“At the enquiry we set out some ground-breaking evidence that will be of great value for other waste streams. It involved careful evaluation of potential impacts and clear demonstration of the need for this facility, and that its presence will not cause harm to the area in which it will be situated.”

Natural England, an independent public body which protects the environment, had raised concerns that biopathogens, such as sudden oak death, and harmful levels of ammonia could be emitted during the composting process. As a result the Planning Inspectorate requested an environmental statement for the inquiry, although an environmental impact assessment was not required.

Using the latest research Terence O’Rourke proved that the process at Wisley would exceed best practice guidelines and not pose a significant risk to either the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area or the Royal Horticultural Society’s gardens at Wisley.

Additionally, the project overcame the High Court judgement regarding a different site in the county and whether Surrey’s local waste plan site allocation was unsound, which had implications for the Wisley site. Terence O’Rourke had to prove the site allocation was robust while seeking planning permission.

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