NRW permit variation for the Waste Transfer Plant at Nine Mile Point Ind Est Cwmfelinfach
NRW permit variation for the Waste Transfer Plant at Nine Mile Point Ind Est Cwmfelinfach
Why this petition matters
People’s Petition - the Lower Sirhowy Valley Communities Partnership and residents’ response to Natural Resources Wales consultation on the permit variation for the Waste Transfer Plant at Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate, Cwmfelinfach.
Here are our concerns:
1. Concerning the scope of Natural Resources Wales remit for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.
We would request that the waste haulage transport through this valley that is required for this waste transfer and processing installation should be considered an integral activity and considered as part of the permit.
Our supporting reasons:
There is an existing traffic restriction on the B4251, this is a new development that will create additional HGV road traffic.
No traffic study has been undertaken through the Wattsville area to establish the volume of traffic in the area.
Concerns over the air monitoring undertaken in the valley and that national Air Quality Objectives are currently close to being breached.
When the decision to approve this development was taken in November 2015 the Planning committee did not have the consultation reports of Public Health Wales, National Resources Wales or the council Environmental Health Officer.
We therefore do not believe that matters concerning the volume of traffic or emissions associated from transport have been considered under any other process.
2. National Resources Wales asks those taking part in the consultation whether they have read the permit variation application documents and which ‘themes of topic’ were focused on.
We remain concerned that there are issues that are not being properly addressed through this permit process or other processes such as planning applications. It is the absence of these issues in this permit consultation that is of concern. These issues that we are concerned about will also be raised in subsequent points, in summary they are:
Conflicting information on the location of mineshaft entries, located on and adjacent to the waste transfer site.
Conflicting information on the estimation of mine shaft collapse zones and how the waste transfer site can operate safely around them.
Testing for mine gas at the mineshaft entries has not been evidenced.
On-site and off-site transport issues.
The containment and disposal of fire-water.
3. National Resources Wales asks those taking part in the consultation
‘Do you understand the scope of this permit variation application?’
In response we would understand the scope of the permit variation application to include the matters addressed or varied in the application documents and any matters that should have been reasonably included within them. It is also apparent that a number of planning matters have recently been approved or discharged that conflict with information provided under this application. As under point 2 there appear to be matters about the waste transfer site that are being varied that are not being addressed. These matters will also be raised in subsequent points, in summary they are:
extending the hours beyond those stated in the planning permission for HGV traffic to move through the valley to service this waste transfer facility.
The relocation of a weighbridge onto a mineshaft cap in order to make the bale storage area functional.
A reduction in surface water storage from the approved volumes.
No information on the submitted plans as to how fire water would be drained.
4. NRW invites those undertaking the consultation to ‘Please provide any comments you may wish to make on the Environmental Risk Assessment which are relevant and within the scope of the permit variation application and within our remit for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.’
Our comments on the Environmental Risk Assessment are outlined as follows:
Transport: Mon – Friday permitted hours deliveries / transport
planning permission15/0601/full restricted to 07.30 – 18.00hrs
Environmental Permit states 07.30 – 18.30hrs
Noise and vibration hazard: mine shafts / collapse zones are not identified as potential hazards either from vibration or physical loading. The mine shaft cap at 001 does appear on submitted drawings, however it is not identified as a shaft cap and collapse zones are not indicated.
Drawings submitted under the Environmental Permit variation indicate the weigh bridge at the site vehicle exit as positioned in part on the shaft cap to mine entry shaft 319191-01 which contravenes the position shown on both approved layouts for planning permission15/0601/full and 21/0974/Full. The approved position for the weighbridge avoids the collapse zone. The installation on site appears to confirm that the weigh-bridge has been installed as shown on the drawing now submitted under the Environmental Permit variation such that HGVs exiting the site via the weighbridge would drive over the shaft cap at mine entry shaft 001. Similarly it is not clear what would prevent vehicles using the north end of the building and bale storage area from driving over the mine shaft.
As a general point the condition of the mine shafts has not been verified and local knowledge indicates that they have not been properly investigated or located.
Accidental fire hazard: mine shaft gas emissions are not identified as potential hazards.
Despite the Coal Authority recommendations to undertake gas testing (January 2022) there is no record available of gas testing at the mine shaft entry points and therefore no evidence that mine shaft gas emissions have been considered.
Local residents including former miners recall that the former mine area was levelled into an area created by straightening the River Sirhowy. It is believed that this was undertaken to eradicate spontaneous ground fires and smouldering that had gone on for years after the colliery was cleared. This preceded the development of the industrial estate and the site for the waste transfer facility, although in a prime location, was never developed.
Fire water containment: External fire event is assessed as a hazard, however an internal fire event is not specifically assessed. The strategy for containment of deployed firefighting water is described as containment in the surface water system that would be isolated until removed. It is assumed that the water storage that would be required to hold both deployed water from an internal fire event and a period of surface water run-off without discharge from the site until fire water can be removed would need to be demonstrated. It is also not clear how routine hosing down of the areas would be prevented from entering the surface water system.
Drainage: drawings were approved under planning permission15/0601/full prior to the introduction of a water tower and pump house to the facility. However, the drainage drawings submitted under the Environmental Permit variation appear to show a reduction in water storage attenuation from the approved drainage drawings submitted under the planning permission and there is nothing shown as to how the internal floor area of the building might be drained on any of the drainage drawings. There are concerns that DCWW have not been consulted or are even aware of changes to the drainage proposals. However, this development is now connected to public drainage in the estate road that discharges to the River Sirhowy.
5. NRW invites those undertaking the consultation to ‘Please provide any comments you may wish to make on the emissions to air which are relevant and within the scope of the permit variation application and within our remit for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.’
6. NRW invites those undertaking the consultation to ‘Please provide any comments you may wish to make on the odour management plan which are relevant and within the scope of the permit variation application and within our remit for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.’
Odour: Weather data from Cardiff Airport is being used to justify this application. Weather conditions at the airport are NOT representative of meteorological conditions of this valley. Cardiff Airport is situated on a coastal plan, with coastal winds to blow odour/pollution away. Nine Mile Point is situated in a steep sided deep valley, which suffers from Temperature Inversion, where air (and odour) lingers in the valley.
By removing the RTO (Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer), the odours generated can therefore not be captured and maintained under negative pressure and treated in the odour treatment system - especially with the doors to the waste plant constantly opening and shutting to accommodate at the high quantity of vehicles moving 100,000 tonnes of waste per year.
The RTO is considered as the best method of dealing with odour. The applicant believes that because the nature of the waste they plan to treat has changed, it will be less odorous so they can get away with a less expensive solution. There are offices close by and business that require air to be filtered into their premises - will the charcoal system for removing odours, as nearby businesses could be badly affected and potentially jobs lost ?
Neighbouring factories Mollertec, Curtis Wright and Billington Foods are large employers at Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate. Hywel NMP Ltd will employ under 30 personnel.
A food producing business operating at Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate, currently emits cooking smells, which linger in the valley. It would be unacceptable for odour from decomposing waste traverse the valley as well.
7. NRW invites those undertaking the consultation to ‘Please provide any comments you may wish to make on the operating techniques which are relevant and within the scope of the permit variation application and within our remit for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.’
The previous comments on the mineshaft collapse zones are relevant as it is not clear how HGV’s and site vehicles can circulate and exit the facility without encroaching on the mine shaft collapse zone. Similarly it is not clear how the bale storage area can operate. We believe that the introduction of the water tank and pump house has reduced the operational area such that it is compromised. This is demonstrated as the applicant indicates that the mine shaft on site will be driven over on a frequent basis and HGV’s turning around the North-East corner of the building are shown as mounting a raised kerb in order to make the turn.
8. NRW invites those undertaking the consultation to ‘Please provide any other comments you may wish to make on the permit variation application which are relevant and within the scope of the permit variation application and within our remit for the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.’
CONTINUED OPPOSITION TO THE WASTE TRANSFER PLANT
January 2017, Natural Resources Wales turned down a permit application from the plant’s operators, Hazrem Environmental Ltd, after raising concerns over the prospective health of neighbouring communities to the Nine Mile Point Industrial Estate. However, Hazrem submitted an appeal over the decision which the environmental agency decided not to contest, citing “extra technical information” included by the developer. The campaign group Lower Sirhowy Valley Residents Group, called for a Planning Inquiry, but December 2017 the Planning Inspectorate report to the Planning Inquiry concluded NRW had based its decision on “worst case scenario” figures.
NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The original planning consent granted to Hazrem Environmental Ltd by Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC) is deemed unlawful by a Barrister who specialises in Environmental and Planning Law.
CCBC classified the waste plant as if it were a new Industrial Estate, a mistake obvious to both the Council and to Hazrem, but neither of them did anything to put it right. The Council should have demanded an Environmental Impact Assessment from Hazrem but didn’t.
This means the local authority missed their chance to identify the significant effects of Hazrem’s Waste Disposal plant on the local community of the Lower Sirhowy Valley i.e. impact on human health and the environment.
1st JUDICIAL REVIEW – DR PLATT
Early 2021, local resident Dr Platt sought a Judicial Review at the High Court into the original 2015 planning permission for the Waste Disposal facility at Nine Mile Point and into the 2020 decisions to discharge pre-commencement conditions attached to that consent. The Judge refused permission because Dr Platt did not apply within the 6 week time frame allowed when the planning permission was granted.
Dr Platts barrister still agrees that the consent was granted unlawfully because the applicant (Hazrem at the time) should have undertaken an Environmental Impact Assessment. CCBC have since admitted in open court that they got the classification wrong and their barrister conceded, when pressed by the Judge, that it was “not unarguable” that an EIA should have been done.
2nd JUDICIAL REVIEW – DR PLATT
Local resident, Dr Dave Platt has recently served notice on CCBC and Hywel for permission for a second Judicial Review into the following two decisions made by Caerphilly Council Planning Committee:
On the 13th January 2022 - 21/0974/FULL Hywel NMP Ltd applied for full planning permission to erect a sprinkler tank and a GRP [glass reinforced plastic] pump house (“the 2022 pp”) on part of the site in the north-eastern corner of their land.
While a standalone building, this is effectively a variation of the original planning consent and requires consequential variations to the approved plans.
VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
September 2021, 1,300+ people within the valley signed a petition of No Confidence in their two ward Councillors (Leader of Caerphilly Council and Ward Councillor: Philippa Marsden and Cllr John Ridgewell), over their lack of engagement Hazrem Planning Application.
INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY
The petition also demanded an Independent Public Inquiry into the waste plants Planning Application at Nine Mile Point, Cwmfelinfach. Cllr Marsden ignored the call for an Independent Public Review and the council carried out an ‘Internal Review’, which turned out not be an Internal Review but a response to a ‘complaint’ made by a local resident – Dr Platt.