Councillors in the Scottish Borders who rejected proposals for a £4 million waste transfer station in April on the back of six written objections will soon consider a "revised" planning application which opponents claim is virtually identical and which has attracted 19 objections.
The WTS at Easter Langlee at the site of the region's only public landfill facility is urgently needed following Scottish Borders Council's failure to commission and deliver a suitable waste treatment plant. And attempts to assemble a credible waste management strategy have repeatedly ended unsuccessfully over the last 15 years.
It may seem strange to the layman, but SBC has had to submit two separate requests for planning consent to themselves as planning authority for the area. The WTS would be home to thousands of tonnes of household refuse until it was shipped out by road for treatment at an established facility some distance from Galashiels.
According to waste management experts the cost of this distinctly environmentally unfriendly solution to the council's waste management woes was estimated at more than £1 million a year back in 2009. So the likely price for road haulage thanks to the inability to fund and build a conventional MBT [Mechanical Biological Treatment] plant seems certain to be considerably more in 2017/18.
Opponents of the WTS argue the C class road leading to the Easter Langlee site is totally inadequate for the volume of heavy traffic the development would generate. It is difficult to see what has changed since April when elected members threw out a recommendation from their own staff to give the WTS the go-ahead.
Cynics have commented that the councillors were 'grandstanding' just a few short weeks before the local government elections. But others were convinced planning committee members had listened to the serious concerns of local residents.
So it will be interesting to see whether the second attempt to secure the WTS also ends in failure. It is a potential setback the local authority can ill afford with landfill deadline day looming large in its wing mirrors. Had the MBT been delivered on time in 2013 some 80% of Borders rubbish would have been diverted from landfill and there would have been no requirement for a giant garbage store.
This time round Galashiels Community Council has added its voice to the dissenters. Like other opponents it sees merit in finding a "more suitable" location close to a main route and away from the
hazardous network of country lanes close to Easter Langlee.
In their written submission, the community council state: "The Community Council after hearing all points made wishes to object to this planning application as we do not feel that the conclusions made in the Transport Report are valid.
"Photographs were produced by residents of accidents on the C77 which refute the points made in the report that it can be made safer with lighting; widening at specific areas; implementing a speed limit and erecting various signage.
The size and regularity of large vehicles on this road are a danger to people and children; cyclists and horses. The number of houses adjacent to the C77 has increased over the years, especially the Melrose Gait development (not yet complete, with another phase still to be built."
Comments were raised about the unsuitability of the Lowood Bridge for heavy vehicles but the SBC representatives advised that the bridge repairs and upgrading would accommodate this.
In conclusion the community council claims: "In essence, the view is that the waste transfer station application is flawed, particularly the Transport Report and we object to this and also suggest that the Council should be looking for another location."