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Recently fined skip company has plans refused by council

A skip hire firm has had a bid to expand its operations in Goostrey blocked — and it could now face enforcement action from the council.

AM Skips was seeking approval to change the use of its Brookbank Farm site from agricultural to waste transfer/skip hire (ITALICS writes local democracy reporter Ethan Davies).

But instead of securing planning permission, Cheshire East councillors blocked the move, and head of planning David Malcolm indicated the council would look at enforcement action against the firm if it had operated without the necessary environmental permit.

The company had already been running on Brookbank Farm, but both the firm and director James Barber were prosecuted last year for operating at the site without the required environmental permit.

Coun Paul Morgan, of Goostrey Parish Council, told Cheshire East’s Strategic Planning Board last Wednesday: “The operation has not had the benefit of planning permission or an environmental permit and has been subject to enforcement actions.

“It seems this alone has forced the regularisation of this activity.”
Coun Morgan told the committee that the parish council’s concerns were mainly focused on the use of a single-track rural road by HGVs, and the agrarian setting of the business when no evidence had been submitted to Cheshire East that other suitable sites had been explored in full.

He added: “The parish council was invited to a site visit with the applicant and the agent in September but neither of those two attended.

“We were shown around by a helpful junior environment consultant, but the visit only strengthened our existing concerns.”

Last December, both AM Skips Ltd and Mr Barber were fined a total of more than £16,000 at Chester Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit, and for failing to provide waste transfer notes when required.

Mr Barber pleaded guilty as a director of the company to failing to stop it operating without a permit, and for failing to ensure AM Skips complied with the requirement to provide waste transfer notes when required.

Representing Mr Barber at the planning meeting, agent Lynn Jones said: “The applicant is seeking that permit and that should be confirmed shortly. The Environment Agency has confirmed that should be the case.

“The proposals are appropriate for the local area as they fall within the exception of the local plan — the use of an existing site to expand a business. The business’s location is central to its client base.

“A thorough site search was undertaken, and no alternative sites were identified. There are fundamental issues in locating these sites in urban areas with amenity issues.”

But councillors felt that the exception could not be used in this instance, given the lack of the required environmental permit in the past.

The planning committee voted 11-0 in favour of refusal at the virtual meeting, with one member abstaining due to technical issues.

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