Residents in Avonmouth fear their community is turning into the waste capital of the South West as a consultation opens for another waste processing plant.
Those living in the area have been dealing with continuing problems of dust and flies coming from a host of waste plants – including wood chipping facilities and household rubbish incinerators – which have been cropping in and around the site of the docks.
“There are so many dust-producing plants in Avonmouth already – we are becoming the recycling centre of the South West of England,” local resident Steve Ware told Bristol24/7 as the latest went out to the public.
A consultation was opened on Wednesday for a proposed “bottom ash aggregate plant” which processes waste left over from incinerators and turns it into recycled hardcore which can be used in the construction industry.
The site will import waste leftover from incinerators burning household rubbish to power homes in Devon and Wales. The consultation says the waste “may contain varying quantities of glass, ceramics, brick, concrete and metals,” depending on what has been incinerated.
Day Group Ltd, which is applying for an environmental permit for the site, plans to process 130,000 tonnes per year of incinerator bottom ash at the Royal Edward Dock in Avonmouth.
Previous investigations have found potentially harmful levels of metal and brick dust left of homes and gardens around the port. The dust is believed to have come from various waste recycling plants around the area.
The city council installed dust monitors in the wake of complaints and have also started catching flies for further tests on pollution in the area.
Ware, who lives on Poole Street, said many locals will be objecting to the latest consultation. “Every time they want to build a new waste plant, they look to Avonmouth. This time there will be a lot of objections.”
The storage building at the plant will be open 24 hours per day and seven days per week to accept and place raw materials. The recycling facility will operate from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday and from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays.
Day Group Ltd said all imports into the site will have a “wet consistency” so there will be little risk of dust. However, as the aggregate is processes it will become dry and will be stored in open storage bays. Day Group says on hot days the material will be dampened.
The company added in a Q&A document for residents: “Incinerator bottom ash is classified as not hazardous to human health and the environment when used as intended. This is by virtue of the very high temperatures involved in the incineration process and is demonstrated by extensive laboratory analysis.”
However, the plant requires a permit from the Environment Agency, which launched its consultation on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Environment Agency said: “We will only issue a permit if we believe that harm to the environment, people and wildlife will be minimised and that the operator has the ability to meet the conditions of the permit.
“Providing a business can prove that the proposed activities meets all the legal requirements, including environmental, technological and health requirements, then we are legally obliged to issue a permit, even if some people do not approve of the decision.”
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