Hazardous waste storage granted

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

PERMISSION to store hazardous waste at the former Hickson and Welch chemical site has been granted by planning officers.

The application by landowners Kelsdale Ltd for a hazardous substance consent – which allows the storage of 192 tonnes of toxic substances, 50 tonnes of fly ash and 5,000 tones of aqueous waste on the land – was approved by Wakefield Council’s planning committee last Thursday.

But Coun Les Shaw – a former worker at the defunct chemical plant – raised concerns over the application and asked that a time restriction be imposed.

At the meeting, he said: “These substances have been there quite a long time already. I think a timescale is needed. If the owners walk away for whatever reason, we’ll be left with them owning the site with permission to store chemicals with no time restriction in place.

“If we give them a reasonable timescale, we’ve got the ability to say they’ve got to clear it up. While it’s no danger to the public at the moment, chemicals can change state in their containers. I think we have to be careful.”

Planning officer John Worthington said he was unsure how such a condition could be imposed given that the chemicals did not pose a threat in their current state.

He confirmed he would discuss it with the council’s contaminated land officer and Kelsdale at a meeting next month.

He said: “The owners have been quite clear in what they want to achieve at the site. If they don’t gain consent they may lose momentum to clear it up and they do seem to be keen to do this.”

Mr Worthington said he would speak to the land owners and make a formal decision about timescales once it had been discussed.

Coun Shaw said: “We don’t want this site to be in the same condition in 20 years time. To give them unlimited time makes me nervous.”