Compost protest hots up

ANGRY campaigners are drawing up battle lines to fight plans to develop a composting site near their homes, which they claim will make their lives a "living nightmare."

Harlequin Composting Ltd has applied to Calderdale Council to demolish the former maggot farm at Sharneyford Works, Bacup Road, Todmorden and construct a building for composting waste material. It comes before the planners on December 14.

But people living in Bacup Road, planning to object to the proposal, are organising a campaign of opposition and are urging everyone living in the vicinity to write to the planners with their objections.

The campaigners claim if the development is given the go-ahead it will mean an estimated increase of 88 vehicles a day using the plant and say that along with the increase in traffic for the proposed water treatment plant at Clough Foot, that figure may top 100 vehicles each day using the road between Todmorden and Bacup

One of the objectors, Tony Berry, says as far as they are concerned those figures are totally unacceptable, adding:"We moved up here to be in the country for a bit of peace and quiet and all we are now facing is being bombarded by heavy lorries. The whole village is up in arms."

Mr Berry added:"It is going to be a living nightmare for people round here. This area is a lovely wildlife corridor.We regularly see badgers, Peregrine Falcons, and little owls sitting on the walls and in the trees. But I fear all this is going to be destroyed if we get this plant. It is going to make life hell for us."

He said they felt as if they were being "railroaded."

Tony Deakin of Todmorden-based Deakin Design Associates, who is acting as agent for Harlequin Composting Ltd, said the operation would turn green waste such as tree cuttings, paper and carboard into sweet smelling sterile compost ready for bagging up and use by garden centres.

He explained that a recent world summit had committed everyone to recycling something like 70 per cent of waste by 2006 instead of dumping it in the ground and covering it up. This proposed plant was part of that function.

Turning to the campaigners' fears about the amount of vehicles using the site, Mr Deakin explained that the maximum operating weight limit for the plant was 116 tonnes of waste per day and it would be taking material from parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

He estimated that operating at full capacity it would take 20 eight tonne HGV's a day but while the maggot farm was operating that figure was 28 a day. "So the vehicle count is lower than when the maggot farm was operating," added Mr Deakin.

As for the site affecting wildlife he said it would be landscaped with trees, shrubs and other greenery which, he felt would attract wildlife rather than drive it away.