Residents of Braes villages are saying a firm ‘no’ to a planning application that they believe would allow a landowner to process sewage sludge containing human waste and other substances.
After hearing that Anglo Scottish Biosolids Ltd has asked Falkirk Council to extend the types of waste they are allowed to process at Craigend Brickworks, Boxton Road, Standburn, the local community council asked for an extension to the consultation to allow them to lodge objections.
Since then more than 500 objections have been submitted, while at a meeting of Avonbridge and Standburn Community Council more than 30 people came along to make their feelings known to their local councillors and MSP Angus McDonald .
The application for the site of the former brickworks is asking Falkirk Council to remove a planning condition that was set in 2008, which limits the processing of waste on this site to ‘inert construction waste materials’, such as builders’ rubble.
Anglo Scottish Biosolids Ltd, also known as James McCaig Farms, now wants to be able to take a wider range of waste materials – they say in a bid to regenerate a piece of derelict industrial ground that has become a magnet for unsavoury activities.
However, residents who gathered at a recent community council meeting believe this would mean sewage sludge being treated on the site and sent a firm message to their local councillors and MSP that this would not be acceptable.
Speakers in turn told their representatives that the smell, pollution and damage to the roads from increased HGV traffic would be unacceptable and that they also believe there are serious health risks associated with the process.
However, director Andrew McCaig has said there is no intention of the site being used to process sludge, now or in the future.
In a statement, he said: “ASBL acknowledges the concerns raised at the recent community council meeting; with regards to our application at Craigend to amend the conditions of the planning permission, approved by Falkirk Council in 2009.
“We look forward to engaging with the local community when the opportunity for public consultation presents itself.
“We are aware that there is a lack of detail or information regarding the long term future for Craigend, especially the use of local roads and activities on site. We can confirm that it is not our intention now or in the future to use the site as a sludge treatment centre.
“Craigend has been in a state of decline for over 20 years, we are hopeful that the council and the local community look upon our application favourably; this will allow us to start the process of regeneration that we have completed elsewhere within the Falkirk area in conjunction with local residents.
“We will be putting forward our Craigend masterplan for consultation in the near future including the provision of rural broadband services to local households and businesses.
“We take seriously our obligation to our local community and we are continually striving to provide sustainable employment and opportunities within the area.
“The redevelopment of Craigend will create five new jobs at the site. We wish to work with the local community to resolve the long standing issues surrounding Craigend.”
Jo Hird, of the community council, said: “The original condition was imposed ‘to safeguard the environmental amenity of the area’. This requirement has not changed so we see no reason to remove this condition.”
Avonbridge and Standburn Community Council has received the backing of adjacent community councils in Shieldhill and California and Maddiston.
Community council chairman Gordon Addison said: “This is not nimbyism – we do not want this moved to anyone else’s part of the country either. We want it stopped altogether.”
Mr McDonald told residents that he supported their cause and pledged to add his own objection to the plan.