Council considers chemical storage licence

Arch, Castleford'Hickson and Welch
Arch, Castleford'Hickson and Welch

AN APPLICATION to store hazardous waste at the disused Hickson and Welch chemical plant in Castleford will go before planning chiefs today.

Kelsdale Ltd – which owns the site – is asking Wakefield Council’s planning department to give permission to store 192 tonnes of toxic substances, 50 tonnes of fly ash and 5,000 tonnes of aqueous waste at the Wheldon Road site.

A report to the planning and highways committee says the application relates to “future storage associated with proposed development plans” including the “reuse of an effluent treatment facility and development of a biomass station.”

Castleford councillor Mark Burns-Williamson said the matter should be debated publicly and raised questions about future regeneration of the site.

Speaking to the Express before the meeting, he said: “I have looked into this and taken a strong interest because of the time we have spent trying to make sure the ongoing storage of chemicals doesn’t affect regenerating the site.

“This is a significant application and it’s important it’s debated at planning rather than just delegated to officers behind the scenes.”

All hazardous substances consent licences restricting development of the site were revoked last November by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE was consulted about the new licence and concluded the risks to the surrounding population were so small there were “no significant reasons” to object.

The Environment Agency did not raise any objections to the application but advised the chemicals should be “appropriately protected” due to the site’s location on a flood plain.

Coun Burns-Williamson said: “The reports says the HSE and Environment Agency are minded not to make any changes to the exclusions zones.

“The last thing I wanted to see after having the licence revoked was taking it back to square one, but that’s not the case.

“In terms of regeneration, it’s not going to affect it, that’s the bottom line.”

The HSE confirmed in the report approving the application would not bring the a return of the consultation zones. The application also notes the 192 tonnes of chemicals will be removed once redevelopment begins.