Rural residents claim a plan to build a biomass boiler on a farm on the edge of Sheffield is a back-door scheme to industrialise the green belt.
Rachel Hague of MHH Biomass has applied to install the boiler and a 3.5metre stainless steel chimney flue in an existing warehouse at Prospect Farm in Kirk Edge Road, High Bradfield.
The boiler would burn recycled woodchip in order to dry aggregates, which would then be supplied to the construction industry.
According to the plans, the existing warehouse is used for commercial, industrial and agricultural purposes.
More than 20 objections have so far been submitted to Sheffield Council. Most argue that industrial activity within the green belt is inappropriate. The Peak District National Park border is 200 metres from the western boundary of the site.
Objectors also highlight the potential for a big increase in lorries travelling to and from the farm - particularly as the planning application does not specify hours of operation.
High Bradfield resident Neil Rogers said: “Drying aggregates for construction is an industrial activity which that property hasn’t got planning for.
“If it goes ahead, to me it sets a precedent in the green belt.
“I’m all for people making money. But it should not be at the detriment of the green belt, the people who visit it and the families who live within it.”
Several objectors say work on the boiler has already started, before a decision on the plans has been made.
This is backed up by an e-mail from council planning officer Marcus Young to the applicant’s agent, Claire Gettinby, now uploaded on to the council website.
The e-mail says: “I have received photographic evidence that shows that the biomass boiler and chimney flue has already been installed on the building without the benefit of planning permission.
“By doing so, your client is in breach of planning, which could be subject to enforcement action depending on the outcome of the planning decision.”
Mr Young says the application is likely to go before the council’s planning committee in the new year.
No-one from MHH Biomass responded to a request for comment. The firm has four directors - Martin, Jean, Katie and Rachel Hague - and is tied to a number of companies including MHH Contracting, which according to its website provides services such as demolition, bulk earthworks and plant hire.
An environmental impact assessment included in the planning application suggests the impact of the boiler would be low, partly as a result of safety precautions taken to prevent fire. It states: “It has been demonstrated that the risks presented by operation of the biomass boiler with waste wood can be controlled through management and mitigation to reduce the impact on the surrounding environment, so that all residual risks are low.”
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