Mountain of rubble poses a Thorney problem for the County Council

  |  Published: Jun 2nd 2015
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A mountain of builders’ rubble, concrete, and road surface material, dumped next to railway sidings at Thorney Mill, Iver, has been cleared . . . and at no cost to Buckinghamshire’s council taxpayers.

In the past seven months nearly 88,000 tonnes of waste 40ft (12m) high and stretching for nearly a quarter of a mile alongside sidings at a rail freight depot between Thorney Park Golf Course and the River Colne have been taken by rail to the Calvert landfill site in the north of the county.

The move came following action by Buckinghamshire County Council’s planning enforcement team in 2013.

Enforcement Officer Olivia Stapleford said the waste company LSD had started to bring in rubble and concrete in 2011 by road to move it on by rail to a landfill site, under the terms of the land’s Lawful Use Certificate.

But the Thorney problem became clear when residents complained that concrete and rubble was being illegally stockpiled, crushed and sieved, creating noise and dust.

‘This definitely wasn’t allowed so we acted to stop it,’ said Olivia. ‘But suddenly the company disappeared and we could find no trace of them. So we had a mountain of waste that could be moved legally only by rail, and no one with any trains to shift it. It just sat there, and we weren't going to allow it to be moved by road.'

Enter rail freight company D B Schenker Rail UK, waste management company FCC Environment, and some top level diplomacy from Buckinghamshire County Council planning officers and Local County Councillor Ruth Vigor-Hedderly.

Ruth said: ‘This mountain of stuff would have taken well over 4,000 lorries to move by road, and I was determined my residents were not going to be put through that kind of misery. There are already too many heavy goods vehicles using sensitive routes around the area.’

Following talks with the enforcement team, D B Schenker Rail UK, which operated the rail freight depot on the five and a half acre sidings site, arranged for 89 trainloads of wagons, each carrying nearly 1,000 tonnes, to remove the waste.

FCC Environment, which operates the Calvert landfill site for the County Council, handled the 87,764 tonnes of inert waste.

The joint operation saved the County Council more than £1.5 million in disposal costs and taxes.

Reaching the best solution wasn’t without its challenges, Ruth concedes. ‘There were about 2,500 tonnes of concrete too big to move by rail,’ she said. ‘So it was agreed they could be crushed on-site. I appreciate this was noisy for residents, but it was the only way to deal with it – and we managed to contain the work within a week.’

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment, said: ‘I applaud the professional way in which our officers and Local Member worked with the two companies to arrive at a common-sense solution to a problem of nightmare proportions.

‘This is one of the biggest unauthorised sites we’ve had to deal with, and by working so well together we kept nuisance to a minimum, got the rubble moved as quickly as possible by rail, and it didn’t cost our residents the earth!’

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