A PLAN to recycle scrapped cars on the site where a fire burned for 57 days has been recommended for approval despite significant local concerns

Swindon Metal Recycling has applied for permission to continue treating waste and to start a vehicle recycling and disposal operation at the Marshgate facility that was run by Averies Recycling.

In 2014 the site suffered a disastrous fire and the two brothers who ran the company, Lee and David Averies were both found guilty of breaching environmental regulations.

Lee Averies was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and received a criminal behaviour order banning him from operating in the waste industry for five years.

His brother, David, was meanwhile fined £4,208 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000. He was disqualified from being a director of a company for three years.

Officers at Swindon Borough Council are recommending that councillors on the authority’s planning committee approve the application. They point out it is run by a different company now. “It is acknowledged that the site has previously been poorly run as a waste transfer and treatment facility in the past by the former owners. The site operators managed to store several thousand tonnes of waste out in the open which caught fire and burned for over 50 days. SMR Ltd state that there is no link between previous operators and SMR.”

The application is to continue treating waste as previously, but also to take in scrapped cars and other vehicles for recycling.

The scheme includes the construction of a new office at the entrance to the site and a vehicle decontamination building measuring 18 metres long, 9m wide and nearly 8m high.

The report to councillors says: “End of life vehicles are considered waste just as previously treated waste on this site. The addition of a comparatively small vehicle treatment building is required to safely and productively de-pollute, recover and recycle end of life vehicles including their components and will house all the treatment process. Given the nature of the existing authorised use and the use proposed and the synergy with existing surrounding uses, it is considered that no significant additional or unacceptable impact upon local amenity will arise.”

But Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, and ward borough councillors have concerns.

The parish council originally objected on several grounds, but one member for South Stratton, Barrie Jennings said: “We were very concerned after the well-known history and worried that dismantling cars for recycling was inherently dangerous”

After a visit to the site by a number of councillors, Coun Jennings said those fears had been largely allayed, but added: “We’re still not certain there should be both recycling sorting and the vehicle processing business on the same site. We feel it should be used for one or the other.”

Stratton borough councillor Coun Russell Holland said: “I asked for the committee to decide these plans as, after the very serious fire, I thought these plans needed an extra level of scrutiny.”