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Inquiry into state-of-the art in-vessel composting facility at Wisley Airfield

DATE: 18 Sep 2009

The Secretary of State granted planning permission following the recommendations of his Inspector (inquiry September 2009) for a new in-vessel composting facility on part of the former Wisley Airfield, Surrey in the Green Belt. Although earlier objections had been made by Natural England due to potential impact on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA amendments to the scheme (permitted by the Inspector and subject to EIA before the inquiry) led to the withdrawal of the NE habitats objection.
 
The IVC facility would process 30,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste per annum, sourced from Surrey and neighbouring counties. It would handle both municipal organic waste separated at source and biodegradable wastes from the commercial sector to produce high-quality compost for the horticultural and agricultural sectors. The operation would be fully commercial, with no public access. It would be fully enclosed such that the entire composting process would take place within a single building without the need for an external maturation area. The composting process would consist of 3 stages, each performed in separate parts of the building: waste reception and pre-treatment; in-vessel composting: and maturation, screening and bagging. The composting building would be a fully enclosed steel portal frame construction with a fully sealed concrete floor. It would be mechanically ventilated to keep it under negative pressure and fitted with fast acting roller shutter doors that open and close automatically, triggered by vehicle sensors.
 
The Inspector and Secretary of State accepted the case for the need for waste management facilities in Surrey and found that there was compliance with the Surrey Waste Plan and very special circumstances to warrant development in the Green Belt. Objections by the Royal Horticultural Society and local groups based on concerns about biopathogens and potential impact on the RHS Gardens at Wisley and on human health were rejected.
 
(This is the second major waste management facility approved by the Secretary of State in a week: see also news item for 2 March 2010 concerning the Rivenhall Airfield facility in Essex)
 
David Elvin QC and Gwion Lewis represented the Appellant, Wharf Land Investments (Jersey) Ltd.
 
Robert Walton and Toby Fisher represented Guildford Borough Council