Landfill extension provokes fury

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PROPOSALS for an extension to both the size and lifespan of Easter Hatton landfill site were backed by councillors yesterday at an emotionally-charged meeting of Formartine Area Committee.

The approved plans put forward by Easter Hatton Environmental Waste Away Ltd, will now see the facility remain open until 2023, with a significant 40 metre-high extension of the above ground landfill.

Also included were plans to divert an existing stream away from the development, and a new civic amenity site.

A large crowd turned out for the meeting, with public representations both for and against the proposal.

The debate prompted an angry outburst from one Balmedie resident who stormed out of the room accusing the area committee of “a set up” and warnign councillors to “leave the people of Balmedie alone”.

Councillor Paul Johnston, who represents the area, said he was “horrified” that the plans were to go ahead.

Members had originally scrutinised the plans at last month’s meeting, but decided to undertake a site visit before coming to a decision.

Representations against the plan included one public presentation from Iain McDonald, representing Wester Hatton landfill, who argued that the recent rejection of WRG’s plans made approval of a similar scheme for Easter Hatton untenable. Objections were also received from Belhelvie Community Council, who argued that more landfill capacity would detract from the countryside and interface poorly with both the Trump International Golf Course at Menie and the Energetica corridor.

Secretary Michael Slaughter argued in his submission: “We do not believe that views of a landfill site will form a suitable approach for either of these prestige projects.”

Letters in support of the project had also been received, though beyond the date for submissions to be considered as part of the formal planning process.

Mid-Formartine Cllr Allan Hendry told the committee: “People who stay in Chapelwell (in Balmedie) have had to cope with dust from the huge pile of treated mud already at the site, as well as the visual impact of a huge mound of landfill.

“I’m also seriously concerned about the cumulative effect of this development on the area, which already hosts more than a dozen landfills, both open and closed.”

Fellow Mid-Formartine councillor Johnston echoed his sentiments, saying that the site did not sit well with government proposals to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, and that while Easter Hatton was a well-maintained site, it was unfair on local residents to expect them to put up with a ‘bad neighbour’ for another ten years.

His sentiments were echoed by Ellon member Debra Storr, who questioned the company’s provision for access to the site from the A90.

Meanwhile, Ellon councillor Rob Merson argued that an extension to an existing landfill was, in fact, more environmentally friendly than any alternative which would involve transport of waste materials further from Aberdeen.

He added that members needed to be “realistic” regarding the need for landfill capacity in the shire, given the area’s reliance on the oil industry.

The committee voted 7-4 against a motion by Cllr Johnston to turn down the proposals, resolving to grant permission subject to provisos regarding the type, quantity and treatment of waste materials.

Councillors Alan Hendry and Paul Johnston say that residents of Balmedie already have had to cope with dust clouds from the huge mound at Easter Hatton. Picture: Kenneth Hutchison