Scrap metal yard storm erupts

Councillor David Molyneux

Councillor David Molyneux

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A STORM has erupted over plans to create Wigan’s biggest ever scrap metal yard.

Protestors say it could cost the borough dozens of jobs and while the Ince plan has been recommended for approval, councillors too have expressed reservations.

They are so concerned about the proposed location of the massive European Metal Recyclers (EMR) plant that they insist on visiting the site before making any decision.

The move follows a warning from the council’s deputy leader that the business, based on a former warehouse site off Makerfield Way, is planning to process more than 10,000 tonnes of “re-usable steel” per year, along with mounds of ferrous and non-ferrous metallic waste.

It would also become a centre for the environmentally safe handling of scrap cars and vehicles.

But Coun David Molyneux warned that the potential for banging noise and disturbance could drive out the smaller firms which surround the site, threatening more than 70 jobs.

More than 40 legal objections have now been received by town hall chiefs.

Council director of econ omy Stephen Normington is, however, recommending it be given the green light, after telling councillors that in his expert opinion the EMR plant could be operated without prejudicing the businesses nearby.

The immediate locality is already something of a centre for recycling, with the council’s new super depot and the Kirkless waste handing centre nearby.

European Metal Recycling insists it can operate the site without disturbance and help to play a key role in Goverment-supported recycling targets with extensive acoustic barriers on all found sides of the proposed site, along with “advanced” metal handing technologies.

Describing itself as a global leader in metal recycling, the company operates at 150 locations around the world and claims to have been looking for a suitable site in Wigan for the past decade.

It will use specialist grading and handling equipment to produce more than 100 grades of high quality recycled materials which are then taken to market by a road and (Liverpool-based) shipping network.

Their planning agent Frazer Sandwith, from agents Jones Lang LaSalle, said that the EMR project satisfied the council’s Core Strategy and national planning guidance.

He said: “This is one of a number of new projects by EMR on brownfield sites across the UK and the applicants have been searching for a site in Wigan for a number of years.

“It will work hard to ensure that the impact of its operations is kept to an acceptable minimum.

“There is no evidence from existing EMR operations that its activities will generate an unacceptable impact.”

But Coun Molyneux - cabinet member for the economy and an Ince councillor - said: “We must do all we can to make sure that we don’t jeopardise the 60 to 70 jobs that are already there at the companies which currently surround the site.”

“This is not the right place and not the right time for such an operation.”