Work on a recycling facility at a controversial Fife landfill has started without planning permission.
Drone footage showed work to build a bund, or containment structure, at Lower Melville Wood landfill near Ladybank was already under way before Fife Council’s north east planning committee considered Fife Resource Solutions’ plans for an incinerator bottom ash (IBA) processing plant.
The committee approved the plans on Wednesday, with the added condition that processing campaigns, expected to take between six to nine weeks, do not happen more than twice a year. A liaison group will also be formed to keep local communities up to date with activities at the council-run site.
Lib Dem councillor Tim Brett said the council could have set a better example over the site.
“I’m a bit disappointed that work has started on the bund,” said Mr Brett.
“Communities get upset when work is done before planning permission is obtained and it’s disappointing that this has happened here.
“I would have hoped that the council would have set a better example.”
Case officer Edward Bean said the bund visible on drone footage shown to the committee looked “extremely similar to what is proposed under the current application”.
He said: “It’s not been clarified whether the bund that’s been built so far does actually require planning permission.
“If the committee were minded to refuse this application then we could potentially look at enforcement action on that if it requires planning permission.”
The committee heard the majority of the IBA – ash produced by the incineration of non-hazardous waste – would be brought to the Fife site in lorries from the Baldovie incinerator in Dundee.
It would then be stored in piles as high as 36ft before being processed over a period of six to nine weeks, which would happen twice a year.
Mobile processing machinery would be brought to the site and installed ahead of each campaign and removed afterwards.
Mr Bean said: “The source of the IBA isn’t a material planning consideration. My understanding is the majority will come from Dundee and it would be inappropriate for us to limit the origin of the IBA.”
Lib Dem councillor Bill Porteous called for the application to be continued for more information to be brought before the committee. His motion, seconded by independent councillor Linda Holt, was outvoted in favour of an amendment by SNP councillor Ann Verner to approve.
Mr Porteous said: “Sadly, on this site, Fife Council has not been a good neighbour and I understand why the community councils have been very vociferous in their concerns.”
Ms Holt said she would have liked to move refusal, but added that she was unsure what grounds there would have been.
“I feel sick to my boots as a councillor that it looks like we’ve got no option but to approve this,” she said.