A campaign to fight plans which would allow the permanent expansion of a gypsum plasterboard recycling plant in a rural location is gathering pace.
A protest was held yesterday over an application for Hilltop Farm, near Winston, just over the Richmondshire border in County Durham.
Recycling company Agricore Ltd already has permission to run a plant at the site.
In 2015, the company was granted permission to expand by using an existing agricultural building for its recycling work for a period of five years.
The company is now asking Durham County Council for permission to permanently use the building for these purposes.
However, the application has angered villagers living near the site who are unhappy the industrial facility is being allowed to expand at this rural location
Villagers in the Richmondshire village of Caldwell are among those concerned as they say much of the traffic to the site passes through their community.
They add that dust from the site is also a concern.
A protest was held at the yesterday at the site, while more than 180 people have raised objections to the application online.
Kate Nichols, from Hillcrest Park, a holiday park in Caldwell, is among the local residents objecting to the application.
She said the aim of yesterday’s demonstration, which was attended by around 25 people, was to encourage Durham County Council to listen to the concerns of residents.
Kate said the owner of the site, Ian Bainbridge, had assured the community five years ago that the temporary building would only be needed until they found a new site for the recycling plant.
She added: “If the council allows this we will be basically living on the access road to an industrial site — they will be allowing the principle of an industrial site in a rural local and if they wanted to expand further int he future there is nothing they will be able to do about it.
“The roads and bridges are simply not up to the amount of traffic servicing an industrial site of this size.”
Neil Shaefer, another local resident, said: “Most of the vehicles come through our village Caldwell and there are bridges near us which were built thousands of years ago which won’t be able to cope with more HGVs, not withstanding the speed they come through the villages and mess they leave.”
Local residents have hired their own planning consultant to help them fight the plans, with £1,000 raises through a crowdfunding appeal in just four days.
“It’s amazing how local people have pulled together to fight this application,” Kate added.
Documents submitted with the plans state that 80 per cent of the gypsum recycled by the plant is used for agricultural purposes for spreading on fields.
Local farmers who buy the product collect it with a tractor and trailer, while lorries are used to transport it to those living further away.
The papers say the owners have been looking for an alternative site for the plant for three to four years, with the most important factor being its proximity to the farmers who purchase the gypsum.
The applicants say a number of sites in County Durham and North Yorkshire have been assessed, however they are too far away or unsuitable for other reasons.
The documents state that 15 people are employed at the site, adding: “Over the last five years the company has established a skilled stable workforce who are able to carry out their tasks efficiently resulting in a cost-effective business but also limiting environmental impact.
“The majority of these employees come from Barnard Castle, Darlington and some of the immediate surrounding villages. The fact their place of employment is local to them is important as it keeps down the cost of transport to and from work.”
For more details on the application click here.