Scrap yard scheme axed amid job fears

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A GIANT Wigan scrap yard scheme has been halted over fears it would wreck hundreds of existing jobs.

Amid dramatic scenes, councillors on the planning committee agreed to overturn the recommendation of their own officers and – after a tense recount of votes – to refuse European Metal Recycling (EMR) permission to create a site on former warehouse land off Makerfield Way, Ince.

Protesters, who had submitted more than 40 legal objections to the plans, claimed it could have cost the borough scores of jobs and driven out a neighbouring herbs and spices preparation company from the borough because of potential dust emissions.

The committee heard that the firm had recently been forced to quit a site 60 miles away in Stoke after the watchdog Environment Agency refused to renew its operators’ licence.

The firm was planning a reusable steels stockholding storage site and metal recycling facility including three weighbridges and an “end of life” facility for scrapping cars and vehicles plus an associated tank farm for the waste oils and fuels they contain.

European Metal Recycling and its agent Jones Lang LaSalle declined to comment today about the decision, or whether an appeal would now be forthcoming.

Had the plans gone ahead, they would have created 20 jobs.

But the council’s deputy leader David Molyneux had warned earlier that the company was planning to process more than 10,000 tonnes of “re-usable steel” per year, along with mounds of metallic waste.

In a hard-hitting submission, the Ince councillor also pointed to the fact that EMR had included a perimeter fence more than 20ft high surrounding its site. This, he suggested, was an indication by EMR itself of the potential for pollution and disturbance the recycling processes could create.

Coun Molyneux said: “I have worked in heavy engineering for all of my life and no one has yet designed a way of quietly unloading steel and I am not sure they ever will do.

“Any way you care to look at it, this is going to be a process that is going to make a hell of a lot of noise.”

He was strongly backed by former chairman of planning, Coun John Hilton, who feared a constant procession of seven-and-a-half-ton trucks “backing up” along Makerfield Way from dawn waiting to get into the plant.

He said: “I know just what type of problems are going to happen here because we already have them happening in my ward in Cale Lane.”

Agent Fraser Sandwith, on behalf of EMR, told the meeting that there was “no evidence” that the operations would cause any unacceptable impact on existing firms on the site of the residential properties on Makerfield Way.

He pointed out that the ethos of recycling was backed by both Government and the local authority and the Ince site was one of a number of potential projects being rolled out across the country.

Mr Sandwith added that the now-levelled site had industrial planning permission and could be returned to such use without the need for a planning application if EMR’s scheme was refused.