Recycling firm rumbled

Exterior of Blakeleys Waste Management UK, Bickershaw
Exterior of Blakeleys Waste Management UK, Bickershaw

A RECYCLING firm’s bid to run lorries from its site from the early hours has exposed the fact that it has been doing it for six years already!

Blakeleys Waste Management wants vehicles to be able to bring recyclable material to its works in Bickershaw between 4am and 8pm every day.

However, a report prepared for Wigan Council’s planning committee admits Blakeleys HGVs have already been rumbling past homes on Bickershaw Lane at antisocially early hours and the company has blatantly disregarded its current operating conditions since 2008.

The firm’s proposal to be rewarded for its rule-breaking by making the longer hours official has provoked anger from residents who say their lives have been made a misery by the site, with Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue and three local councillors also objecting.

Despite this, the application is expected to go through as long as a number of conditions are met.

The report states: “There is an important balance to be reached in assessing this application. The proposal relates to an established local business and employer.

“The site operations assist in meeting national and local objectives in securing sustainable modes of waste processing.

“There is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the continuing imposition of the previously approved hours would have serious implications for the operation of this business on this site.”

Blakeleys has applied

for retrospective planning permission as vehicle movements and activity outside the buildings are currently restricted to between 7am and 6pm in the week and 7am until 1pm on Saturdays. Indoor activities can be carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The report says: “It is evident the site has been operated for some years in breach of the operating hours restrictions imposed as conditions of the planning approvals.”

More than 30 vehicles were travelling along the Blakeleys site access road between 4am and 7am on weekdays during monitoring carried out last summer. A further five lorries left the site between the same times on the Saturday.

However, the assessment also said only around half the large trucks on the roads in the area in the early hours were to do with Blakeleys.

Blakeleys says vehicles need to leave the site from 4am due to the logistics involved in early-morning waste collection from schools and urban centres, allowing for breakdowns and accidents and complying with European safety regulations on how long drivers can be behind the wheel.

The company employs 128 staff, 90 per cent of them from the borough, and serves more than 7,000 customers across the North West.

Residents have complained about noise nuisance including crashes and bangs in the early hours of the morning, problems with flies, smells and vermin and the company’s previous fines for breaches of traffic and employment laws.

Other objections include lorries allegedly ruining the surface of Bickershaw Lane and the possibility the site could open for even longer hours in future if the extension is granted.

The report recommends councillors’ approve Blakeleys’ application subject to conditions restricting the number of HGVs on the site at night and ensuring recycling work only takes place in buildings.

The council also wants the company to set up a community liaison group to improve relations with local residents and to submit noise limits and ways of reducing disturbances.

The planning committee will meet at the Pier Centre on Pottery Road on Tuesday February 17 at 2pm.

Blakeleys was approached for comment but had not responded as we went to press.