‘Deadly spores’ fear over plans

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RESIDENTS claim plans for a green waste composting facility in Sheffield could emit bio spores – which could cause ‘serious’ health risks and even death.

Two petitions, signed by 187 people in total, plus 65 letters of objection have been submitted by members of the public to the plans by Green Estates for part of the disused Norton Aerodrome site.

Residents also fear wood set to be dried out at the site for biomass boilers could ‘spontaneously combust’.

The application to use part of the aerodrome – involving refurbishment of a hangar and the siting of metal cabins for a site office and welfare building – are due to be discussed at a Sheffield Council planning committee meeting on Monday.

Planning officers have recommended the scheme be approved.

Green Estates said its plans involve an 11,924 sq metre area of the aerodrome.

Its operation would involve storing timber which would then be chipped to produce biomass fuel on site.

There would be 15 vehicles going in and out of the site each day, with access to the facility from Bochum Parkway, part of the outer ring road.

But residents are objecting about potential noise, smells and disturbance – and say there are alternative sites available.

Comments in letters of objection claim ‘there would be serious harm to the health of those living around the site caused by emissions of spores and bio aerosols from the proposed activities’.

One letter said: “The bio aerosol spores can cause death.

“There should be a distance of at least 250m between nursing homes, schools and houses.”

Opponents claim the hilltop location would risk spread of spores over a wide area, adding there was also a risk of ‘spontaneous combustion’.

The objections are supported by Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, and councillors Bryan Lodge, Karen McGowan and Ian Auckland, as well as Woodland View Nursing Home, to the south of the site.

However, six letters of support have been sent, saying the plans would reduce the risk of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

The Forestry Commission and South Yorkshire Forest, which would provide wood for chipping at the site, also support the plans.

Council planning officers said 20 other sites had been considered, but found unsuitable.

They said combustion was extremely unlikely’ and the Environment Agency, which monitors planning applications for health risk, had not objected.