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'Recycling delay nearly closed us'
A £2M recycling centre is finally up and running after a six-year planning wrangle which threatened to put its operator out of business.
The operation at Dix Pit, Stanton Harcourt, was put forward by the Sheehan group of companies as a site for aggregate reycling in 2006.
But it is only now, after a planning appeal, that it can finally start running.
Sheehan managing director Chris Sheehan said the decision could have been made years earlier had proposed Government legislation to cut red tape gone ahead sooner.
Mr Sheehan said: “In the light of the economic downturn, the delays involved in getting this permission threatened the very existence of the business, putting us to maximum expense in a very difficult trading environment. It was a very stressful time.”
Mr Sheehan’s daughter Tara, financial controller at the firm, said the delays also had an environmental impact.
She said: “We could not commission the new recycling plant until August 2011 – five years on from initial contact and 500,000 tonnes of lost recycling later, which went unnecessarily to landfill.”
Now they are backing plans announced by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne to speed up the planning process by relaxing some of the rules.
Mr Sheenan said: “Cameron and Osborne are talking about easing the planning restrictions and relaxing red tape. If this were to become the general mindset I believe we may have had less difficulty to overcome.”
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Planning applications are dealt with on an individual basis as and when they are submitted and there is a set decision-making process which has to run its course – including any appeals.”
The Campaign to Protect Rural England is opposing the Government plans to reform planning laws.
Spokesman Jack Neill-Hall said: “The vast majority of business planning applications go through speedily, with about 95 per cent being decided within a year.
“Of those that don’t, the appeal process can be slow, but is in place to allow good things and disallow bad things.”
The Yarnton-based Sheehan Group employs 50 workers and runs a fleet of 40 lorries.
The new aggregate washing facility unveiled this week enables up to 90 per cent of all Sheehan’s construction and demolition waste, plus other third-party waste, to be recycled from within the Oxfordshire area.