Campaign over dust at plasterboard recycling factory in Totternhoe

The site in Totternhoe ''''''                                 [Marc Boiteux-Buchanan]
The site in Totternhoe '''''' [Marc Boiteux-Buchanan]

A Totternhoe man has waged a campaign to hold a plasterboard recycling company to account over what he says is dust escaping from the site.

Marc Boiteux-Buchanan says he is concerned at the proximity of Plasterboard Recycling Solutions Ltd to residents in the village, as well as the amount of heavy goods vehicles passing through.

The company is based at the old lime kiln site at Lower End, around 500m from Totternhoe. It has a license from the Environment Agency to dispose of 50 tonnes of gypsum plasterboard per day, as well as to recycle the rest and sell it commercially.

Mr Boiteux-Buchanan said: “The licence says the operation must be enclosed in a sealed building so dust is unable to escape.”

Pictures provided by Mr Boiteux-Buchanan show large holes in the factory roof.

He added: “This operation should be on a purpose built industrial estate far away from the compromise required for our village at the historical lime works site.”

Mr Boiteux-Buchanan states that many of his requests for information about the site from Central Bedfordshire Council have gone unanswered over several years. Mr Boiteux-Buchanan also alleges that the plasterboard recycling industry in the UK is “flooded” with potentially toxic materials from Russia, China and Africa.

Derek Brown, of Plasterboard Recycling Solutions Ltd, described Mr Boiteux-Buchanan’s claims as “spurious”.

He said: “The site is permitted to process 75,000 tonnes per year. Inputs and outputs are monitored by the Environment Agency.

“The pictures seen by us last week as part of a Facebook petition are, in our estimation, at least five years old and bear no relation whatsoever to the building as it stands.

“All of the plasterboard we recycle on site is sourced from the UK - both from manufacturers and the construction industry.

“Mr Boiteux-Buchanan also refers to foreign registered vehicles and containers arriving and leaving the site, which is possible as other businesses on site are involved in exporting goods. They do not however collect from or deliver to us.”

Mr Boiteux-Buchanan stands by his clams and responded that the pictures date from january 22 this year.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency stated: “The site is permitted to store up to 3,000 tonnes of waste at any one time and has an annual throughput of 74,000 tonnes a year. Most of the gypsum is processed to meet a standard so that it is no longer considered to be a waste – and is sold on for re-use.

“The site was most recently inspected on 16/10/2018 and no significant issues were identified.

“We are aware that sites like this can, if not managed well, create dust although the Environment Agency has not received any recent dust complaints about this site.

“We urge anyone who feels that they, or the environment, is being affected by dust or other issues from any sites we regulate to report the issue to our 24/7 incident hotline on: 0800 80 70 60. We will be speaking to the operator about the holes in their roof and will check on this during the next inspection.

“With regards to vehicle movements – there is no limit on this within the Environmental Permit and may be regulated by the local authority through planning permission controls.

“Please note for clarity – the permit only allows 50 tonnes of waste per day to be treated for disposal but the majority of the waste treated at this site does not go for disposal – it goes for recycling and re-use and there is no daily limit for this.

“All waste sites are expected to carry out pre-acceptance checks on any wastes before accepting them into their site – including any assessment of hazardous properties.

“Waste acceptance procedures at the site were audited during the last inspection 916/10/2018) and no issues were identified.”

Mr Boiteux-Buchanan has set up a petition calling on Central Beds Council to release more details about the site, see https://centralbeds.moderngov.co.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=112.