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Construction waste activities forced inside over pollution fears

Planning Inspectorate rules that operations at McGee Group’s East London site must be carried out within a fully enclosed building from 2017 to mitigate against particle emissions

Construction waste recycling operations at the McGee Group Ltd’s riverside site in East London must be carried out within a fully enclosed building from 2017 to mitigate against particle emissions, the Planning Inspectorate has ruled.

Aerial photo of the McGee Group site in the London borough of Newham (photo: Environment Agency)

Aerial photo of the McGee Group site in the London borough of Newham (photo: Environment Agency)

Demolition and engineering company McGee Group has a condition placed in its environmental permit for the Silvertown site stipulating that all wastes must be stored and treated within a fully-enclosed building, with doors on any access routes, by 2017.

This condition was first imposed on the firm by the Environment Agency in 2014 after air quality monitoring revealed ‘very high’ levels of particulate matter PM10 pollution in the area.

However, the McGee Group appealed this condition, with the Planning Inspectorate left to decide whether the forced enclosure of the firm’s activities was ‘reasonable and necessary in the interest of safeguarding human health and preventing pollution’.

The Planning Inspectorate said it recognised the uncertain future of the McGee site due to the proposed Silvertown Thames Crossing project, which has also faced criticism from environmental campaigners over its potential impact on traffic, congestion and air quality in the area (see AirQualityNews.com story).

The Mayor of London’s Silvertown tunnel proposals would see a tunnel constructed under the river, which the Planning Inspectorate said could have an economic impact on the McGee Group’s business.

However, the Planning Inspectorate dismissed the McGee Group’s appeal, finding that there were insufficient reasons for the firm not to enclose the operations “given the implications of non-compliance in terms of particulate emissions for public healthâ€?.

Welcoming the decision, the Environment Agency said the verdict was part of ongoing work it is undertaking alongside the London borough of Newham council and the Greater London Authority to reduce emissions of particulates in the area.

Pollution prevention and control officer at the Environment Agency, Chris Lowe, said: “We are very pleased to hear of the Planning Inspector’s decision and the recognition that it is indeed appropriate for us to require the enclosure of waste operations which have the potential to contribute to poor air quality.

“Operators of similar waste management sites should take all steps to ensure their activities do not cause air pollution. We maintain our position that full enclosure is best practice. Any applicants for new waste management sites should be prepared to fully enclose their operations. We will be targeting existing, poorly performing sites to ask them to enclose their current operations.â€?

A spokeswoman for the McGee Group, which is headquartered in Wembley, said it was “not in a position to comment at the present timeâ€?.

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