Villagers try to halt latest plans for recycling plant
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
PEOPLE in Winston are opposing a plan to make the north’s only plasterboard recycling plant a permanent fixture.
The village’s parish council meeting is expected to be packed with residents on Thursday night when Agricore’s application for a permanent change of use to several agricultural buildings at Hill Top Farm is discussed.
The company has been extracting gypsum from plasterboard since 2013, causing an uproar about dust and heavy lorry traffic. Gypsum is used by farmers to improve soil.
People as far away as Caldwell are opposing the application. Lynn Bearpark, who helps operate a Speedwatch scheme in Caldwell, said: “I see first-hand the very large and noisy artics already passing through the village which are either going to or coming from the site.
“Our concern is if this site expands then so will the amount of artics coming through the village.”
Caldwell’s parish council has objected to the application and is taking advice from North Yorkshire’s highways department. Clerk to the parish council Sarah Haplin said: “We do feel that we directly suffer the environmental impact of this local business.”
Chairman of Winston Parish Council Cllr Mike Taylor confirmed there had been much interest in Thursday’s meeting.
He said: “We have had a letter from a resident door-to-door in which she has given her concerns about the possible expansion [at the site]. Obviously, people have concerns and some people just do not want it there.”
However, Cllr Taylor said he had not noticed an increase in heavy traffic or a problem with dust.
Initially, the company was bringing in about 10,000 tonnes of plasterboard a year for recycling, but this
expanded to about 65,000 tonnes after temporary planning permission was granted to put up a new building and to change the use of another agricultural building in 2015.
This temporary permission expires in November, prompting Agricore owner Ian Bainbridge to apply for it to be made permanent.
In the application Mr Bainbridge said the location of the site is important to the recycling centre’s viability.
He added: “Overall, it is more important that any new site for this new recycling facility is located in close proximity, and with easy access, to the local farms than it is for it to be located in close proximity to the sources of the plasterboard.
“It must also aim to be in a location where it is possible to retain the existing workforce who have become skilled in the use of the machinery and the operations.
“The local farmers are very sensitive to the price of the gypsum and the cost of haulage. Any price change could result in them deciding not to take the product. This could have a major knock on effect to Agricore Limited.”
The company employs 15 people on a full and part-time basis.
County councillor George Richardson, who represents the Barnard Castle East ward, said he could not comment on the application as he is a member of south and west planning committee, but would be attending Winston Parish Council’s meeting on Thursday to gauge people’s views.
Cllr James Rowlandson, who also represents the village on the county council, confirmed he will also attend.
He said: “We will be guided by what is said but I will be calling for the application to taken to the planning committee.
“I have been speaking to the planning department and they have said they have had no problems of people complaining about traffic or waste [from the site] for the past four years.”
The parish council meeting gets underway at 7pm at Winston Village Hall.