Aylesbury business owners call for more action improving 'atrocious' air quality coming from recycling centre

Annoyed residents and landlords remain furious with the dust situation, despite interventions from the Environment Agency

By James Lowson
Monday, 31st January 2022, 11:35 am
Updated Monday, 31st January 2022, 11:36 am

Aylesbury business owners have spent months urging public bodies to deal with an ongoing air quality problem they claim is caused by a nearby recycling site.

Tenants and landlords of business units in Griffin Lane in Aylesbury have persistently raised concerns regarding dust and debris they allege is coming from Hoban Waste Management Ltd.

They claim the dust from the site has covered cars, forced residents close to their windows and are a safety concern when it comes to air quality in the area.

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Another photo showing the fibres

A landlord who has frequented the area since 2016 and used to work on the site in Griffin Lane, has spoken of his dismay at the situation.

"If you look at it from a cool light, it's awkward from the point of view that I'm going to lose a tenant, possibly," he told The Bucks Herald.

"That's just a cold view of it. But, I'm an environmentalist, like a lot of people these days and always have been. It's just atrocious."

A lack of accountability is a source of frustration for residents who have grouped together in a bid to get something done about the persistent air problem..

Dust building on the car

Nearby business owners feel months have been wasted contacting officials and governing bodies, who they say shifted the responsibility onto the Environment Agency (EA).

Karen Baldwin who uses a unit on Griffin Lane for her business, Kool Vent Ltd, told The Bucks Herald: "When we realised what was happening the first thing we did was try and find out who we should be reporting this to.

"We were sent around the houses. We went everywhere to try and find out and eventually got hold of the Environment Agency, who told us to report it to the incident hotline number.

"We did that for quite some time and things weren't happening.

dust from the recycling centre

"After a while we started to wonder what was happening. Because we hadn't been reporting it in the right way, it hadn't been logged properly.

"We weren't given reference numbers, we were missing forms that we had to fill out and it became a real big farcical thing that every time we phoned we found out something else.

"It was like, hang on a minute, we should have been told this in the beginning. They kept trying to get us to contact the recycling company, and I didn't think that was appropriate, as someone trying to run a business in the area.

"While we may have two days where it's not a problem, maybe even a week, possibly even a month. The problem is still there."

Another picture of the fibres that build on vehicles

When contacted by The Bucks Herald, an Environment Agency spokesman said: “We have intervened at this site to ensure the operator Hoban Waste Management Ltd comply with their environmental permit and improve dust control.

"While we have seen positive progress over the past few months, we have recently received further reports of dust affecting nearby businesses. We are following up these reports with the operator to ensure they are taking all the appropriate measures to control dust from their recycling activities.

“Anyone with concerns about the site should call our 24-hour freephone hotline on 0800 80 70 60 so that we can investigate.”

A video sent to The Bucks Herald filmed in August 2021, shows an office in Griffin Lane caked in dust, blocking visibility into the unit and leaving brown residue.

When contacted for a comment on the dust situation in December, a spokesman for Hoban Waste Management Ltd said: "It comes as a surprise to hear about a complaint being raised to The Bucks Herald about our site as we were under the impression that following major improvements on site the issue had been resolved.

"We were indeed having dust issues onsite during the late parts of 2020 and the early parts of 2021 but we have made major investments in dust extraction and dust suppression systems as well as improving site infrastructure to enclose parts of the processing building.

"We have also enclosed the side of the site facing Griffin Lane with six-metre-high dust fencing with further dust suppression built into this. As you are likely aware, as a recycling facility we are heavily regulated by the Environment Agency and are subject to regular inspections, this includes regulating any dust emissions from processes onsite and we have been working hard with the EA to ensure continual improvement in this area.

"The processes we carry out onsite are in the interests of diverting waste that was destined to be landfilled and recycling it into a renewable fuel source for various Energy from Waste plants around the UK, including at times the Greatmoor EfW plant at Calvert, which supplies electricity to parts of Buckinghamshire."

While people working nearby accepted that some improvements have been made in the past 12 months, many remain far from satisfied.

A landlord, at risk of losing tenants who are considering moving their business away from the recycling site, criticised the EA's inspection policy.

The extent to which dust affects nearby businesses varies depending on a number of factors including how strong the wind is and how much work is being done at the site.

Business owners and landlords also claim the EA has not visited their Griffin Lane sites to discuss the issues and see the impact of the dust first hand.

Among the businesses seeing their bottom line affected by dust clouds, is ironically a car wash business, forced to cope with the elements and additional dirt, while attempting to return vehicles in a spick and span condition.

Staff at Pro Hand Car are said to be 'incandescent' when it comes to fibre and dirt that swirls towards their business.

Another potential issue caused by the flying fibre is that businesses claim it causes to drains to become blocked on the estate. As a result businesses could be at risk of flooding during heavy rainfall in Aylesbury.

Business owners are continuing to log complaints with the EA and the recycling centre.