Preston scrap metal processor is refused longer working hours

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A not-for-profit recycling company has been told it cannot increase the operating hours of its metal processing plant in Preston.

Recycling Lives sorts and shreds scrap metal – from items including cars and electrical goods – at its base on Longridge Road near Grimsargh.

Longridge Road, close to the entrance of Recycling Lives

Longridge Road, close to the entrance of Recycling Lives

The charity – which is also headquartered in Preston and operates eight facilities across the UK – had applied to operate its “fragmentiser” equipment for an extra three hours each weekday. The firm wanted to begin work half an hour earlier than currently at 7am and continue until 8pm.

The fragmentiser is used as the final stage in the shredding process and the machine is thought to be the only one of its size operating in Lancashire.

Alexis De Pol, from the company’s agent, De Pol Associates, described the firm as “an asset to Lancashire” for its work on unemployment and offender rehabilitation – which has been recognised with several Queen’s awards.

He rejected objections lodged by the Environment Agency that Recycling Lives had provided insufficient evidence to demonstrate that its plan would not have an adverse impact on neighbouring properties, some of which are less than 350m away on the Hills estate.

“The applicant appointed specialist noise consultants who have provided detailed assessments and have addressed all of the comments raised by the Environment Agency,” Mr De Pol told a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s development control committee.

“Whenever the company has addressed their comments, they simply raise additional questions.”

But council planning officers recommended the application be refused because of concerns over the way the noise assessment had been carried out.

The agency warned that noise from the fragmentiser was likely to be “even more noticeable and disruptive” after 5.30pm – the current time at which it stops operating – because sound from neighbouring industrial businesses would have ceased by then.

It also noted that there were “tonal” differences between traffic noise and the processing of metal which meant sound from the plant’s operation could rise above the level of any background hum from the M6 and the local road network.

The meeting also heard that noise receptors used as part of the study had not been properly placed to allow the impact on the first floors of nearby properties to be adequately assessed.

The Environment Agency concluded that there was a risk of the extended hours having a “severe adverse impact” on local residents.

Head of planning at Lancashire County Council, Andrew Mullaney, told the committee that the agency was “very competent” in reaching conclusions about noise impact.

Recycling Lives declined to comment on the committee's decision to refuse the application.