DC Casebook: Waste Management - Composting plant refused in green belt

The change of use of a farm building in the Warwickshire green belt into a waste recycling and composting facility has been rejected on the basis that it would reduce the openness of the area.

The appellant was already using the building to process green waste even though the council had refused permission. He proposed to expand the operation to import green waste, waste wood and food waste to be shredded, mixed and placed in six composting vessels. After seven days, the material would be moved to a second set of vessels before being exported as a soil conditioner for farms.

The inspector agreed that the use was not inappropriate in a green belt. However, he noted that the scheme involved construction of 12 composting units, each around 9m by 15m enclosed by 2m-high retaining walls. These permanent, substantial structures would undermine the openness and visual amenity of the green belt, he concluded.

The existing waste recycling operation had generated many complaints from residents who claimed that they were often unable to use gardens or open windows due to odours originating on the farm. The appellants had implemented some mitigation measures to ensure that its continuation would not threaten their amenity. The inspector accepted that conditions could be imposed to control odours from the proposed use if necessary.

Overall, however, he decided that the conflict with green belt policy was overriding. He conceded that finding sites for the type of facility proposed is difficult but found nothing to suggest that the appellants had carried out any systematic assessment of alternatives outside the green belt. The need to recycle more waste did not justify granting permission, he decided.

DCS Number 100-058-275

Inspector Keri Williams; Hearing

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