Concerns over planned relocation of Colburn asbestos plant

The location of the proposed asbestos plant. Photo: Google.

Community leaders have voiced alarm over a demolition and asbestos removal firm’s plan to relocate its base next to a dance studio and cheerleading club.

Colburn Town Council has expressed incredulity that North Yorkshire County Council is even considering A1 Environmental Services Ltd’s plan to move its hazardous waste operation “within a densely populated area of housing with several further housing developments in the pipeline”.

The town council said the firm’s move to a new site on the Walkerville Industrial Estate would see asbestos handling brought unacceptably close to shops and a GP surgery.

A1 Environmental Services Ltd is seeking planning permission to demolish buildings on a site off Foss Way where it creates an external storage yard with an asbestos waste transfer station.

Even with the consent, the firm would then need to apply for an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency to carry out waste activities on the site. If granted, this would include conditions to control noise, odour and dust from the site.

An agent for the firm said the scheme was driven by its ambition to relocate operations from the industrial estate’s Regent Court to the new site.

He said: “This relocation will help secure the longer term viability of his business by providing a more modern and purpose designed layout with improved means of enclosure and security.”

However, community leaders have highlighted how the proposed waste storage area is about 45 metres from the nearest home, about 12 metres from the boundary of a garden and almost opposite a popular shop which has “a steady stream of visitors”.

In a letter of objection, the town authority has warned the county council that asbestos dust could be carried in the wind and “can cause appalling illness with a long slow death”.

In the document the town council also appears to question why the scheme had not been immediately rejected by county council planners, and suggests Colburn, an area with relatively high levels of deprivation and industry, is treated differently to its surrounding market towns.

It stated: “The town council thoroughly objects to a health hazard being created in the midst of a residential and light industry area. The town council is dismayed that such a planning application could even be accepted for consultation.

“This would not happen in Richmond, Bedale or Leyburn so why should Colburn be subjected to such a threat.

“Currently the front part of this building is used as an exercise academy for young people and children.

“We have few enough facilities in Colburn without losing any more particularly for younger residents. Please remember there was a Public Spaces Protection Order in place for two years to combat anti-social behaviour.”

In its response to the consultation, Richmondshire District Council highlighted how planning permission was granted just 11 months ago to change the use of the front part of the Foss Way premises to a dance studio and cheerleading club.

It states: “As I’m sure you’ll appreciate the concerns received relate to the movement of hazardous materials which would be taken down the side of the building to the proposed facility at the rear.

“Whilst the proposed uses are acceptable on an industrial estate, I would question whether they would be compatible with the adjoining leisure uses set out above.”