A planning application has been made by Skip-Rite Limited of Ludgershall to convert an agricultural barn on Manton Drove - just south of Marlborough - into a waste recycling and processing plant.
Wiltshire Council has received forty-four comments - all but two from residents of Manton - many protesting 'strongly' and all against the proposed development calling it 'inappropriate' and 'dangerous'. One letter states it "...would cause unacceptable pollution and damage to the environment in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."
Councillor Jemima Milton, unitary councillor for the West Selkley ward, has called in the application so it will be discussed at Wiltshire Council's Eastern Planning Committee - probably on April 20, which will be its last meeting before the local elections .
Manton Drove runs between the A345 and Manton village. Although the building - known as Manton Weir Barn - is just outside the Marlborough/Manton border, Councillor Stewart Dobson has persuaded planning officers to allow Marlborough Town Council's planning committee to be consulted on the plans.
The application is to "...allow mixed non-hazardous materials to be imported, stored, treated and exported. The waste material will typically consist of inert waste from construction and demolition sites and mixtures from household, commercial and industrial sources. Although, household waste will be accepted, there are no plans to store black bag waste in any real quantity."
The strongest objections to the application centre on the transport of waste to and from the barn. The application states that it is expected that each day there will be fifteen vehicles arriving at the barn and and fifteen vehicles leaving: "The typical vehicle type is from 8-wheel tipper lorries/hook loaders to 3.5 tonne vans/trucks."
Manton Drove is a single lane road without passing places. The application seems to think Manton Drove is there just for the barn: "The site is accessed from Manton Drove, a purpose-built access and driveway from the A345." The barn was built as a grain store in the 1960s - Manton Drove is an ancient (probably medieval) way, though in 1773 it was known as Manton Lane.
Wiltshire Highways Development Control Officer, Hannah Jones, has lodged an objection to the application: "...the use of this route by the large eight wheel based vehicles will have a significant negative impact on both the condition of Manton Drove and the verge which will almost certainly be over run."
Most of the comments from Manton residents concern the dangers of these vehicles approaching and leaving the barn along the western part of the Drove and through Manton High Street - which is already crowded with parked cars and is the site of the local primary school.
The alternative route in and out of this processing plant is by entering Manton Drove at its junction with the A345 (Marlborough-to-Pewsey Road.) Hannah Jones is 'not happy' with the increased use of this junction: "The geometry of the junction is not suitable for large vehicles on such a regular basis and the visibility in both directions is limited and sub-standard."
She concludes: "The development is contrary to Wiltshire Core Policy 61 which requires all proposals to be capable of being served by a safe access to the highway."
One person who has written to Wiltshire Council about the application states that there have been a number of motor accidents at that junction.
Other common elements in the comments made about the application refer to pollution and noise. The application states that at first the waste treatment will be by hand: "There is an option within the permit to use mechanical means of waste treatment such as crushing, screening and blending of materials."
The site would work weekdays 7.00am to 6.00pm and Saturdays 7.00am to 1.00pm. The application says that when fully operational the plant could employ ten full-time staff. However, there is no mention of any facilities being built to provide for the staff - such as toilets.
One claim in the application is that "The previous uses of the site would almost certainly attract higher vehicle movements than those that are being proposed." Except, of course, that traffic to and from a grain store is largely seasonal - and once the grain has been exported, the store lies empty with no deliveries or collections till the next harvest.
Comment by the Kennet Group of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), supports the criticisms from the Wiltshire Highways Development Control Officer. And it criticises the vagueness of the application: will the plant accept waste from individual householders? Where will the ten employees park their cars? How will the site cope with run-off from black bag waste and effluent from the processes?
Certainly the increase in heavy traffic will affect the lives of the people living in Chalk Pit Cottage - which lies between the barn and the A345. The CPRE comment notes that occupants of the cottage are liable to suffer a "...potential loss of amenity to residents from dust, odour, noise and the vibration from passage of 30 vehicle movements per day."
The applicants cite future waste from the new housing developments coming to Marlborough as part of the business plan: "It is hoped that the new homes to be built in Marlborough...will also increase the market for the business."