Scottish Borders Council is still weighing up whether or not to challenge its own planners’ rejection of its plans for a £5.2m waste transfer station at Easter Langlee on the outskirts of Galashiels.
Concerns over the impact on road safety that siting the plant next to the region’s landfill dump – due to be decommissioned next year – would have were aired at last month’s meeting of the council’s own planning committee.
Committee members voted 5-2 to reject the application, determining that the C77 road linking the site to Galashiels was inadequate to cope with the projected 88 lorry movements a day the facility would generate.
By refusing consent, the committee overruled the advice of its planning officers as they had recommended approval.
Over two weeks on from that decision, the council has yet to lodge an appeal to the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals division in a bid to get it overturned.
Any such appeal would be expected to highlight the fact that, back in 2013, the same committee granted consent for an advanced thermal treatment plant at the same site – and that project, scrapped in 2015, would have generated even more lorry movements than the proposed waste transfer station.
“The council is still considering its options,” said a spokesperson for the local authority.
Given that tenders for the transfer station were due to be invited in the summer and that the council must meet the Scottish Government’s ban on all biodegradable waste going to landfill by 2021, the delay in challenging the planning rejection – and the timescale of any subsequent appeal process – has raised speculation that the newly-elected council might seek another site for the plant instead.
“If we cannot make this safer for pedestrians and residents, then perhaps we should be looking for another site,” suggested Selkirkshire councillor Michelle Ballantyne at April’s planning committee meeting.
Mrs Ballantyne, re-elected last week, is leader of the Conservative group heading a new ruling administration at Newtown.
And Galashiels councillor Bill White – defeated at the polls last week – told the committee: “I am not sure why anyone thinks the Easter Langlee site, close to a housing estate which will soon be the size of Tweedbank, is the right one.
“I have no idea why other more suitable brownfield sites closer to the A68 trunk road have not been considered.”