St Edmundsbury Borough Council gave green light to the West Suffolk Operational Hub (WSOH) at a packed full council meeting last night.
At the heated meeting, members voted through the proposals which will see waste collection and transfer facilities united at a hub at Hollow Road Farm near Great Barton.
As part of the multi-million pound plans, the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) at Rougham Hill in Bury St Edmunds would close.
The controversial proposals have faced fierce criticism from campaigners after a six-week consultation showed that 48 percent of responders disagreed there should be a single centralised hub, although campaigners argue it is nearer 60 percent.
The council chamber was packed to the rafters, with residents keen to have their say on the important decision.
Adrian Graves, representing the WSOH Villages’ Community Forum, said after ‘drilling down into the detail’ of the consultation, there was clear and strong opposition to the all-in-one combined site.
“They also revealed overwhelming support for the retention of the existing and popular HWRC at Rougham Hill.
“Importantly, compelling, viable alternatives were presented - and these have been summarily dismissed.”
Mr Graves asked why alternatives put forward for other sites had not been considered.
Councillor Peter Stevens, Portfolio Holder for Operations, defended the plans saying the council had explored all options.
“As promised, we investigated every alternative suggested and scored them,” he said.
“We also re-scored the options assessment to take into account the new traffic criterion.
“You ask ‘why’. My answer is because, yet again, our detailed, objective research clearly shows that Hollow Road Farm is the best option for a West Suffolk Operational Hub that would future-proof waste services for our growing population.
“I can understand why those living nearest to the site may object to that, but it doesn’t change the outcome of the research.”
Mike Collier, Chairman of Fornham St Martin cum St Genevieve Parish Council, said Hollow Road Farm site would create huge traffic problems in the area.
He said: “The spectre of an added 200 vehicle movements an hour around Junction 43, Barton Hill, Compiegne Way, and Tollgate and other places does not bear thinking about.”
However, Cllr Stevens said issues such as traffic planning and infrastructure would be discussed when the planning application is submitted.
Philip Reeve, chairman of Great Barton Parish Council, added: “Please don’t let your passion to serve your electorate be forever tarnished with this obsession for a hub”
Despite impassioned speeches by Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, Cllr Sarah Broughton, and a attempted amendment to move the hub to an alternative site on land south of West Suffolk Crematorium by Cllr Paul Hopfensperger, the council voted by a majority of 17 (29 for, 12 against) to push ahead with the plans.
For more reaction to the decision, see Friday’s Bury Free Press.