CONTROVERSIAL plans to site a knacker’s yard and carcass incinerator in the Valley of the Racehorse have been revived.
The news was greeted with horror and disbelief by local residents, who had hoped they had heard the last of such schemes. It is likely to trigger renewed uproar among racehorse trainers.
As before, the proposal suggests moving a knacker’s yard used for storing horse carcasses, plus an additional horse incinerator, from its current location on the Turnpike industrial estate in Newbury, to the site of the former Wessex Saw Mill in Great Shefford.
The previous proposal – refused by planners last March – proved hugely controversial, attracting more than 300 representation letters from the public.
Most objected, but nearly 50 people signed a petition in favour.
These transpired to be near- neighbours of the existing yard, who wanted it moved because of the “foul smells”.
The Environment Agency formally opposed the plan and the National Animal Welfare Trust in Great Shefford said allowing the project would destroy the charity.
There were particular fears from surrounding residents that the entire water supply, drawn from a local borehole, could become contaminated during recurring bouts of flooding at the site.
Many in the horseracing industry warned that horses for miles around could be ‘spooked’ by the smells emanating from the yard.
There was relief and jubilation at the eventual refusal of the project, which had first been suggested in 2013.
But barely had the dust settled when it seemed opponents of the scheme will have to regroup.
Planning consultancy firm Pro Vision, which has offices in Newbury and Winchester, Hampshire, has announced a consultation ahead of a renewed planning application.
A Pro Vision leaflet delivered to residents acknowledges that the previous application was refused on the grounds of potential pollution of ground and surface water, pollution of the highly-protected River Lambourn, damage to amenity of residents, countryside users and the landscape and damage to the character of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
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But it goes on to assure readers: “Local amenities will be unaffected by the proposed development.
“There will be no contamination of water in local boreholes from waste effluent.”
The National Animal Welfare Trust was already preparing a response to the latest proposals as this newspaper went to press.
Chairman of Chaddleworth Parish Council, Grahame Murphy, has responded to the consultation by telling Pro Vision: “This is a re-hash of a failed project... that was refused by West Berkshire Council.
“Reading through your handout I see that nothing has been learned at all. [It uses] the same incinerator ‘Volkan 1000’, where the animal or horse will have to be cut up to go through the entry door, and the same smell attenuation method, ‘Airbourne 10’.”
Of the latter, he said: “If it’s as good as you declare I suggest you use it on the current site in Turnpike Road to address the many complaints there.”
He went on: “We are in an AONB, the River Lambourn is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the site you propose sits right above a large aquifer that has flooded the surrounding countryside in 2007, 2012 and 2013.
“When we get more flooding, your liquid storage tank will be many feet below the surface of the floods and will contaminate, not just the flood flow, but the surrounding land and borehole.”
His response concluded: “This site is totally inappropriate for this business because of the high incidence of flooding in the very recent past.
“Also, it would neighbour the National Animal Welfare Trust's Trindledown Farm sanctuary – an established charity that has been for there for the past 16 years.
“Finally, all of the people and organisations that resisted the last application – including me – will do so vehemently once again.”