Biofarm rejected after protests

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PLANS to build a composing and wood-chipping centre on part of the old Norton Aerodrome site have been rejected.

Green Estate had applied for permission for the development on the 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 widespread 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 said it will appeal, adding the composting was small scale in an enclosed area so it was 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.

Labour Birley Ward councillors Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan and Denise Fox welcomed the decision.

Coun Lodge said: “Some of the health issues that could arise from having this facility here are very concerning and I am pleased the planning board decided to reject the application.

“Local people have brought a petition showing the strong opposition to these plans and I have received strong representation from people who live near the site who are firmly against the proposals.”