THERE were angry exchanges at a meeting held to discuss controversial plans to site a knacker’s yard in the Valley of the Racehorse.
Trainer Paul Cole repeatedly clashed with Edward Saunders, of applicant J Passey and Son.
Mr Saunders also responded angrily to barbs from members of the public, some of which became personal, at the special meeting of Chaddleworth Parish Council on Tuesday night.
J Passey and Son wants to relocate its facility, currently on the Turnpike industrial estate in Newbury, to the site of the former Wessex Saw Mill in Great Shefford.
A similar proposal was refused by planners in March last year after attracting more than 300 representation letters from the public.
Mr Cole told the meeting: “I employ 60 to 70 people and they’re all worried about their jobs. If [racehorse] owners see or smell a knacker’s yard next door then we’ve got no chance.
“No owners will want to come here.
“It will be the death knell for my business and several others.”
He went on to accuse J Passey and Son of operating a “Mickey Mouse outfit” – an accusation vehemently denied by Mr Saunders.
Others expressed fears that the highly-protected chalk stream, the River Lambourn, could become contaminated.
Mr Saunders told the meeting an improved odour control system would be in use at the proposed site and that sealed tanks would prevent leaks and contamination.
Laura Cox, a spokeswoman for the applicant’s agent, PRO Vision, said J Passey and Son was “an extremely well- respected company locally, monitored by environmental health”.
One member of the public asked Mr Saunders: “If your business [at Turnpike] is so successful, why don’t you stay where you are?”
Mr Saunders retorted: “Why should I?”
Ms Cox explained: “This [new] site would be closer to a number of his customers.”
Mr Saunders reminded the meeting that, while it might not be universally popular, his business was a necessary one in a rural environment with plenty of livestock.
Parish council member Michael Pooley acknowledged that the business was “noxious but essential” but expressed fears about possible future expansion.
And he suggested that planners might favour removing the business from the Newbury area so that it could be developed for housing in future.
He added: “For us to simply say ‘we don’t want it, take it somewhere else’ isn’t a very reasonable attitude to take.
“But there’s going to be a real danger to businesses near Chaddleworth.
“We should try to find another site near here that’s not on a water course, one that doesn’t have racehorses nearby and one that isn’t inhabited.”
The application can be viewed in full, and commented upon, by visiting the planning section of West Berkshire Council’s website and using the reference 16/02954/FUL.