Protest victory over green plan

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PEOPLE power led to councillors refusing permission for a planned new composting and wood-chipping centre after objections were made by ‘97 per cent’ of people living nearby.

Green Estate had applied for planning permission for the development on the former Norton Aerodrome site, at which logs would be stored and then chipped to make biofuel and garden clippings turned into compost inside a sealed hangar building.

But the plans attracted huge opposition, with 187 people signing petitions and 65 people writing letters. One of the leading protesters, David Ogden, a former Health and Safety Executive employee, said he believed up to ‘97 per cent’ of people living nearby had objected.

Protesters were unhappy about the development being on green belt land, and worried about traffic, noise, and health risks from spores produced in the composting process.

Mr Ogden said the health risk was a ‘time bomb’ and claimed spores could be ‘fatal’.

Sue Harding, speaking for Woodland View nursing home, said the noise could spoil life for residents who have dementia.

Residents were also concerned that, although the proposal was for temporary three-year consent, it would set a precedent for such development in the green belt.

But Maureen Edwards, of Sheffield Friends of the Earth, said she was astounded at the level of objections and that the 15 predicted vehicles heading to and from the site each day was ‘not a large amount’.

Planning officers recommended approval due to the benefit to the city’s carbon footprint, and because 20 sites had been considered and no others were deemed suitable. But councillors refused permission on the grounds of ‘inappropriate development in the green belt’.

Green Estates has pledged to appeal, adding the composting was ‘small scale in an enclosed area’ so not a health risk.

Councillors could not use health as a reason for refusal because they were told it would have to be considered separately by the Environment Agency.

■ A water wheel at Bridge Street, Kelham Island, was approved despite some locals’ noise concerns.