Following concerns about possible breaches of planning and permitting controls at the Simonswood and Williams Brothers Industrial Estates, Knowsley Council is in contact with the agencies responsible for controlling these sites, to request that urgent action is taken.
The industrial estates are both located in Lancashire, adjacent to Knowsley’s northern boundary. Therefore businesses on the estates are not regulated by Knowsley Council, this is the responsibility of Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire District Council and the Environment Agency.
However, residents living nearby in Kirkby are being affected by noise and dust pollution caused by waste processing businesses operating from the sites.
Because the businesses are not based in Knowsley, Knowsley Council has no direct power to intervene, despite the fact that many of those nearby residents who are being affected do live within the Knowsley boundary.
Monitoring and regulation of these businesses falls either to Lancashire County Council, the Environment Agency or West Lancashire Council, depending on the type and size of each business.
Knowsley Council has taken its concerns to all three of the responsible authorities, highlighting the issues being caused and their long-standing nature.
Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economy, said: “The current situation on these industrial estates is completely unacceptable and we have reason to believe that many of the businesses are in breach of planning and permitting controls.
“One of the major problems is that ‘waste mountains’ have been allowed to build up – with companies storing waste materials such as soil and aggregates in huge piles outdoors. Dust associated with these piles is causing a huge problem for local homes, and this waste material is also getting onto the wheels of vehicles and being deposited onto local roads. We are constantly sweeping the roads that are in Knowsley but it’s still a problem, with debris on the carriageway and dust clouds being created by the traffic as a result.”
Cllr Brennan explained what action the Council was hoping would be taken.
He said: “I’m aware of companies on Simonswood Industrial Estate whose planning permissions say that they are not permitted to have waste piles outdoors of more than 5m high. It’s clear that some of the waste piles far exceed this, and these conditions must be enforced.
“All of the waste sites are supposed to prevent debris being spread onto local roads, but we don’t believe this is happening and want to see this enforced too.
“We also want to see operators on the estate using extensive dust control measures, as set out in their planning conditions and environmental permits.
“We also have concerns that some of the companies do not have planning permission for some of the equipment they are using, or even to use their sites for waste processing.”
Recently, officers from the Planning and Environmental Health teams at Knowsley Council recently met up with officers from Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Council and the Environment Agency for a joint site visit.
At this meeting, it was agreed that the Environment Agency would install dust monitoring equipment close to the site, and this has been backed by Knowsley Council.
Knowsley Council has also asked Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire District Council and the Environment Agency to sign up to an action plan which will set out measures for each authority to do and timescales for them to complete their actions.
Cllr Brennan continued: “It’s incredibly frustrating to us that swift action isn’t being taken against those companies which are causing significant misery to people living in our borough. Unfortunately because the estate sits just outside the Knowsley boundary, we aren’t able to take action ourselves, and we’re relying on other agencies to do the right thing.
“We have raised our concerns about the poor housekeeping of the companies on Simonswood Industrial Estate many times before – not least because this is the same area where Lancashire County Council plan to allow a medical waste disposal plant to open – something we remain completely opposed to.
“Once again we are left wondering how an unproven medical waste incineration facility can be permitted when the existing businesses in this area are seen to regularly flout the conditions that have been imposed on them, and it seems no action is taken.”
Knowsley Council has formally objected to plans for a medical waste disposal facility by Culzean W2E Ltd.
The scheme was recommended for approval by Lancashire County Council but both Knowsley Council and Sir George Howarth MP wrote to the Secretary of State requesting that it be ‘called in’. Those requests were denied, and Knowsley Council is now seeking legal advice on next steps, which could include requesting a judicial review.
Are you impacted by the industrial estates?
Anyone affected is urged to report their issues to the regulatory agencies, using the contact details below:
Lancashire County Council
West Lancashire District Council
Email: Correspondence.CMBLNC@environment-agency.gov.uk or call 0800 80 70 60
Knowsley Council is also asking its residents, if they do complain to any of the agencies, where possible, please copy in Knowsley Council’s Environmental Health team at environmental.health@Knowsley.gov.uk. This will allow them to monitor public complaints being shared, which will assist with any future discussions.