ANY SENSIBLE person would think that this latest review of possible locations for a Bridport waste transfer station has put another nail in the Gore Cross coffin. Since the county came up with the “it has to be Gore Cross” decision their primary argument has been that the Highways Agency will not permit any development directly accessed off the A35 and therefore Gore Cross was the only possible site. That has now been shown to be incorrect, the Highways Agency will permit such development.
Of course the other (unspoken) reason was cost and as the county highways department had decided that the Gore Cross site did not require any mitigation measures for the increased traffic, it was the cheap option as well. Building roundabouts and slip roads will increase costs. As Ron Coatsworth and others have pointed out all along, there could well be a public benefit in using the siting of the Waste Transfer Station (WTS) as an opportunity to resolve safety issues at dangerous junctions on the A35, Miles Cross and Eype especially. Since the Highways Agency “improved” the A35, (in their terms “improved” means faster traffic flows), the improved sections have become the most dangerous on that road in our local area.
One problem with the Dorset County Council officials and lead councillors having spent so much money trying to impose the Gore Cross solution on us is that now becomes a strong incentive for them to put it there. If it does go to Gore Cross, then they haven’t wasted the money after all, it suddenly becomes money well spent.
I personally think they are still determined to carry on regardless.
Years ago a senior planning officer, now retired, came to talk to us at a Bradpole Parish Council meeting. He told us that the County would site a new WTS at Gore Cross. When councillors responded by asking him “What if the inpectors’ reports into the Local Plan and Local waste plan come down against it”, he replied, “It’s going to Gore Cross no matter what the inspectors say”. The inspectors’ reports did both say that the WTS should not be built there, but the County’s dictatorial attitude has continued to this day.
The County try to say that time is running out, it has taken years to get this far and the objectors are holding up the delivery of a vital local facility which will save a great deal of council tax payers money in “tipping away” payments.
Yet a careful inspection of council records and minutes show that the council was aware years ago that SITA, who had the waste contract and were responsible for providing a new WTS facility, were not making progress on this.
When Steve Burdis came in as the new Waste Management head he noted that where SITA had built a WTS for the county, it had cost an excessively large amount of money to buy back off them.
So the county decided to let it lie until the SITA contract had expired and build their own facility.
That is why all that time was lost, that is why the people who live right next door to the South Street site have had to suffer years of extensions to the “temporary” planning permission for that site, years of noise, smell, flies and wind blown rubbish.
That is why the county has paid and continues to pay a great deal of money every year to cart away rubbish to tip at Warmwell and Crossways.
That is why the county will try to put the WTS at Gore Cross despite everything that has passed in these last 15 years: short-term expediency, looking for the lowest up-front cost and the natural reluctance of a bureaucracy to take any but the easiest course.
What is lacking here is clear-sighted and determined leadership, a county council that will fight for what is best for Dorset rather than what is cheap and easy.
Steve Spear is a leading member of the pressure group NOWTS and vice-chairman of Bradpole Parish Council – Bradpole is the parish on the north / north-western side of what is normally just called Bridport.