Father’s ‘biblical plague’ fears about council depot revamp are rejected by planners

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Image: Google Maps (May 2020)

A father feared that his daughter would be subjected to “biblical plagues” of rats and flies from the reorganisation of a council depot.

Borough planners were told that the depot in Brunel Road, Bedford, has been operating for the last 25 years and all the scheme wanted to do was rejig what is already on the site.

But father Robert Gerrard took aim at the proposal during a virtual meeting of Bedford Council’s planning committee on Monday (May 18).

It includes a new road salt barn, a replacement waste transfer station, and general storage areas.

“How can anyone take respite in their gardens with JCB buckets scraping over concrete, and scrap metal being dumped into steel containers?” asked Mr Gerrard.

“The knock-on effect of mixed waste will no doubt result in a vast increase in flies and rats, eventually a biblical plague.”

Mr Gerrard argued that to offer “monitoring” would be like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“I respectfully request that this anti-social proposal, on a par with a slaughterhouse development, should be despatched back to the drawing board and to very senior managers to rethink and ideally re-site elsewhere,” he said.

His daughter Rebecca Gerrard lives in Maia Close, only metres from the site near Bedford Athletics Stadium and the town’s waste transfer station.

She told the committee that the coronavirus lockdown had prevented her from galvanising opposition until the last few weeks.

“People didn’t want to open their doors,” she said.

“I feel let down and disregarded, the lockdown disabled our right to protest.”

But Janine Laver, the council’s head of planning, said the council had met the requirements for advertising the plans. She said the process began before the lockdown started.

Jo Branson-Budd, the borough’s manager for major capital projects said the council was “rationalising its depot operations” to bring them up to Environment Agency regulations.

She said the council had made “every effort” to mitigate effects of the changes.

These included taking advice from an acoustics consultant who concluded that the changes would have a “limited impact.”

And council officer Charles Thomas said the moves were “just a relocation” of the site which is “controlled by an environmental permit for noise and odour.

“We have had over 25 years without significant issues,” he added.

Councillors voted by eight votes to nil to unanimously approve the plans, which include a new parking area for a site office to provide improved welfare and training services for staff.

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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