Shailesh Vara MP, together with Cllr Steve Criswell of Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, has met with local residents and businesses to discuss a planning appeal submitted by Envar Composting Ltd to the Planning Inspectorate. The planning application, which was previously refused, is for a dry anaerobic digestion facility, healthcare waste energy recovery facility as well as for other amenities at Envar’s site in Woodhurst, Huntingdon.
The packed meeting took place at the Raptor Foundation, which looks after various species of birds and is located close to the Envar site in Woodhurst.
The original planning application submitted by Envar proposed an expansion of their current waste facilities and included a 26-metre-high chimney.
The application was refused in April 2023 by Cambridgeshire County Council. Amongst the reasons for the refusal was that the chimney would cause “harm to the visual amenity of local businesses and residents” and the proposal would “introduce significant perceived health and well-being harm to local businesses and residents”.
Envar has since appealed the decision to the Planning Inspectorate, with the matter to be heard next month.
Local residents raised a number of issues with Mr Vara and Cllr Criswell. These included concern for the health of those living nearby, the impact of increased traffic congestion and the consequences of the development on local businesses and amenities.
The impact of the proposals on the health of those living nearby was a matter of much concern, and it was agreed that the development would create a genuine risk to the physical and mental health of residents and children attending local schools. It was also felt that there would be harm to the animals on nearby farms as well as those at the Raptor Foundation.
There was also agreement that the additional traffic would increase the risk to drivers at the notorious Wheatsheaf crossroads, notwithstanding the installation of new traffic lights in the near future.
Moreover, Ms Liz Blows, Chief Executive of the Raptor Foundation, spoke of the difficulties that the organisation would face if the proposals went ahead. She explained that if the appeal were to be successful, the Foundation could be forced to close due to the impact of the pollution on the birds from the site.
Following the meeting, Mr Vara said:
“I was very pleased to see so many people at this important meeting to discuss the appeal by Envar.
“It is a matter of deep concern that, despite serious reservations from the local community, Envar continue to push ahead with their plans which would have a considerable and irreversible impact on those living nearby, as well as threatening local businesses.
“I very much hope that the Planning Inspectorate will take careful note of the serious matters raised in objection to the appeal, as well as the strong feeling felt by the local community which was so clearly displayed at the meeting.”
Cllr Steve Criswell added:
“Members of the public have made their opposition to the incinerator proposal very clear. As elected members we will continue to support them”.
Ms Liz Blows added:
“The Raptor Foundation is a Charity as well as a small tourist attraction, employing 13 members of staff and if Envar was to receive planning for the Incinerator it would have a huge impact on our business, but not only that it would have more of an impact on the health of the animals in our care. We won’t be alone as there are other small business, farmers, nurseries, tourist attractions, pubs, restaurants, the list is too long to mention, that will lose their livelihood.”
Photo: Cllr Steve Criswell, Shailesh Vara MP and Liz Blows together with local residents and business owners.