Firm under fire from MP
THE behaviour of a North Staffordshire recycling plant has been described as 'disgraceful' by MP Rob Flello during the opening day of a public inquiry.
The inquiry was triggered when European Metal Recycling (EMR) appealed against Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which took enforcement action against the Weston Coyney firm in April.
The council acted after the company constructed three buildings, put up 13 steel columns with CCTV cameras, and created four-metre tall metal storage bays at its site in Park Hall Road – without planning permission.
During the opening day of the inquiry, at the Civic Centre in Stoke, lawyers acting for EMR called the council's enforcement action 'irrational' and 'of questionable legality'.
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But speaking on behalf of long-suffering neighbours of the scrapyard, Stoke-on-Trent South MP Mr Flello said EMR had blighted residents' lives since 2010.
The Labour MP – who has previously criticised recycling firms in the House of Commons – said: "The behaviour of EMR has been quite disgraceful.
"We are talking about a residential area which is now blighted by noise, vibrations and dust.
"When Arthur Wright owned the site, throughput was around 6,200 tonnes of metal each year.
"In the two-and-a-half years since EMR moved in, the throughput has rocketed to a massive 30,600 tonnes per year – a massive intensification of work carried out on site.
"That is matched by the level of complaints. In just two-and-a-half years, EMR has managed the dubious honour of racking up over 2,200 complaints."
John Hunter, for the council, claimed EMR had been 'ignorant' of their legal responsibilities.
However, EMR's northern regional director Andrew Brady told the inquiry: "When EMR acquired the site there were several buildings regarded as dangerous.
"EMR felt at the time the buildings were a grave risk to staff so eliminated the risk of falling structures by demolishing them. Between July 2010 and January 2011 the buildings were demolished and new modern buildings erected."
Mr Brady said EMR submitted a planning application for the buildings but, after complications, the company was advised by council planners to withdraw the application.
David Manley, representing EMR, said: "To issue a notice seeking to make life difficult for an employer is of questionable legality." Mr Manley also called a condition regulating the height of scrap allowed to be stored at the yard, as "unlawful, unnecessary, imprecise and unreasonable."