Council officials last night finally met with local residents in Burley to discuss the plans for a Waste Transfer Station being developed just off Kirkstall Road. In a heated meeting, the officials faced heavy criticism over the plans, both for the facility being developed and the way the council has been working.
The Council has decided to replace the facility, which burnt down in 2002, and has been dealing with bids from the private sector – including from two firms who have faced big fines for environmental damage in other areas. A failure to discuss the plans with local residents has created a great deal of tension – with many people questioning why the site must be in Burley – a residential area. The argument happens at the same time as the refuse worker strike across Leeds.
Local residents complain of smells and flies and noises that plague local shops, houses and schools. The council officials maintained that “a lot” of the issues that local residents currently face will be addressed by the new facility, and that no viable alternative locations had been found, but after a summer of experimenting with storing brown bin waste, which has resulted in extra noise and smells, local people were far from convinced.
Rachel questioned why the council was building the site so close to local schools, houses and businesses. She criticised the lack of consultation from the council and raised concerns about the environmental credentials of bidders for the PFI scheme.
Other residents, including school governor Steve Harris and Kirkstall Valley Community Association Chair John Liversedge echoed these worries, and questioned the impact on traffic on Kirkstall Road, especially after the decision to double the capacity of Leeds Bradford Airport. Despite concerns about the lack of consultation, however, the council officials offered very little information or reassurance.
Local residents left the meeting still largely in the dark about the proposals, but with the clear impression that the decision had already been finalised without any reference to their interests or concerns.