Metal recycler EMR is set to face a public hearing to determine whether its measures to reduce noise from its controversial Parkhall Works recycling site in Stoke on Trent will be allowed to stand.
A public inquiry, set to take place on Thursday (January 10) is due to be overseen by the Planning Inspectorate and will determine if retrospective planning permission for a 7.3 metre high container stack, erected to remove the risk of noise pollution from the site, can be granted.
The alterations were made to the site after the Environment Agency warned in late 2012 that it would issue a suspension notice on operations at Parkhall Works, if steps to reduce noise are not carried out. The site had been the subject of large numbers of complaints concerning noise from the local community.
Planning permission for the container stack was originally turned down by Stoke city council in March 2012.
The firm has also submitted plans to erect several seven metre high acoustic fences and to relocate the existing weighbridge office to reduce the amount of noise generated by the site.
Some local residents are strongly opposed to the placing of the container stack, as well as opposing the erection of 13, 32-foot high steel columns which house CCTV cameras and lighting which were put up in 2012.
The hearing follows a lengthy exchange between the company and the Environment Agency over the amount of noise generated by the site, which culminated in a High Court hearing in August 2012.
In February the Agency served EMR with an enforcement notice to suspend operations at the site following 1,103 complaints relating to the level of noise being generated from its operations at Parkhall.
However, EMR was granted a temporary injunction preventing the notice from coming into immediate effect and the notice was then quashed by the High Court at a hearing in August, after it was deemed that the Agency had not explicitly stated the steps needed to be taken to remove the risk of noise.
EMR had already begun to take steps to mitigate the amount of noise generated from the site, including reducing the amount of scrap sold at Parkhall Works by 30%, with subsequent inspections carried out by the Environment Agency inspections in September and October 2012 finding that noise levels had been reduced since 2011.
The Parkhall Works site formerly housed metal recycling firm Arthur Wright and Son and was sold to EMR for an undisclosed fee in June 2010. EMR has a permit to treat around 75,000 tonnes of end of life vehicles (ELVs) at the site.