by DOUG COLLIE
Proposals by Scottish Borders Council to develop a £6 million waste transfer station [WTS] on contaminated land at the outskirts of Galashiels seems certain to win approval despite the concerns of local residents who claim their lives will be ruined by scores of lorry movements on a C class road, and from odour, noise and emissions.
In effect the council's own planning authority is set to sanction measures submitted by another department within the same local authority as SBC pursues yet another strategy in a bid to solve its urgent waste disposal issues.
The waste transfer station will be used to store thousands of tonnes of garbage from Borders households until it can be transported by road to a destination outwith the region for treatment.
But the project would not have been required if local councillors and officials had not signed a useless £80 million contract with a firm of dud waste treatment 'specialists'. The partnership with New Earth Solutions collapsed in spectacular fashion in 2015 resulting in the abandonment of plans for a "state-of-the-art facility" on the site which will now accommodate the WTS.
Despite being labelled a major development, SBC appears to be able to process and decide on their own WTS application without it being called in for ministerial consideration at Scottish Government level. No doubt opponents will cry foul, but there is nothing they can do to prevent the scheme proceeding now if councillors nod it through.
The recommendation to approve the WTS - with conditions - has been made in a 20-page report from planning officers which has been published on the authority's website.
Four individual households and a local residents' association have lodged strong objections, citing a string of reasons for their opposition. These include:
*It is an unsuitable site on contaminated land.
*Extra volumes of lorries, including articulated trucks using the C77 route will bring traffic chaos and increase the likelihood of serious accidents.
*The council's transport assessment is one-sided in favour of planning permission being granted.
*There are concerns with the content and accuracy of documentation provided in support of the WTS with allegations of apparent omissions and alterations to predicted traffic flow figures since a public consultation last autumn..
*The conclusion by council officials that odour emissions will not be significant is not based on fact.
*Concerns regarding drainage provision and polluted leachate.
However, all of these issues are dismissed in the report from planning officers.
The document says: "In this case the development would principally involve storage and transfer of waste within a single building, with external works generally comprising access, parking, staff and ancillary infrastructure. It would be sited within the area of the well-established waste management site, using the same road infrastructure. It is not within an ecologically sensitive area or designated landscape.
"Though there are residential areas nearby, including the emerging development to the south, these are not directly adjacent. Ultimately, accounting for the existing land uses within the site and surrounding area; the existing landfill activity; the purpose and scale of the development; and the type of environmental impacts likely to arise, it was not considered that significant effects on the environment would occur such that these would need examined by way of EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)."
On the traffic front, the council claims the WTS will only generate six extra vehicle movements per day, taking the total to 88. This statistic is hotly disputed by objectors, but the report states: "This increase in traffic is not considered to be significant".