Recycling centre proposed on green belt farmland in Epping Forest district

A farm near Abridge could be turned into a recycling centre to process thousands of tonnes of industrial waste every year.

The applicant, listed as Essex Grab Hire Limited, is seeking to turn Arnold Farm in the Epping Forest district into a 75,000 tonne-capacity construction and demolition waste recycling facility.

If approved, the site will be processing waste Monday to Friday between 7am-6pm, and between 7am and 2pm on Saturdays.

According to the planning statement by environmental consultants Integrated Skills Ltd, the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Waste Local Plan identified a need for an additional 1.95 million-tonnes-per-annum (mtpa) recycling capacity by 2031.

This specific site has an Environmental Permit to manage 75,000 tonnes a year.

The statement also reveals the site is on green belt land, but claims the shortfall in recycling capacity and the opportunity to support local jobs outweighs this concern.

A section reads: “The lack of suitable sites within the search area, combined with a need to provide increased recycling capacity and the lack of harm, amount to very special circumstances.

“It is considered on balance that the harm of any inappropriate development is outweighed by the benefits to be gained.”

The statement goes on to say that the existence of a facility will reduce HGV movements through the area.

An application for change of use consent was received by Essex County Council in September 2021.

The county council also wrote to Epping Forest District Council last week, asking for views and observations on the proposals.

Arnold Farm is currently an operational farm on Ongar Road, near Abridge and Theydon Bois.

The River Roding is 300m north west of the site, at the closest position.

According to the planning statement, lighting will be required for operational hours in darkness, as well as for the on-site office and car park area.

Material at the facility would be recycled, and some of it sold as “secondary aggregate”, or materials used in construction works made from by-products of other industrial processes.

The consultation period for the application is due to end on November 1 2021.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter

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