August 14, 2008

Hereford’s Green Compost Plant ‘Risk to Health’

Residents fear a giant composting plant planned for the outskirts of a rural village could be a health hazard.

Villagers in Moreton-on-Lugg, between Hereford and Leominster, say they will fight plans to bring a county's garden waste to a local farm so it can be turned into lorryloads of compost.

They fear processing the grass, soil and leaves will send dangerous spores into the atmosphere which will affect vulnerable people such as asthmatics.

Locals decided to fight the plant after a report in the Lancet earlier his year about a 47-year-old welder who died from a rare reaction to spores from his compost heap which caused the condition aspergillosis.

Doctors highlighted the case in a bid to warn the public they needed to take into account the dangers of rushing towards home composting and organic gardening.

Waste management bosses say residents have nothing to fear from the new plant because their planned buffer zone to stop the spores travelling on the wind is at least twice the 250 metres recommended by the environment agency and health and safety officials.

But that has done nothing to reassure residents and over 100 turned up a public meeting to mobilise opposition to the planning application for the plant.

Wally James ran a campsite around 800 metres from the new facility at Upper House Farm for 22 years and said the composting plant would stop visitors coming to the village.

"We are frightened for anybody with asthma or lung or respiratory problems," he said. Mercia Waste Management says Herefordshire needs to find a way of handling the 6,500 tonnes of garden waste currently being transported to Evesham because this will grow to 28,000 tonnes within two decades.

The company wants to use a four-acre site for the open windrow composting plant.

(c) 2008 Western Daily Press (Bristol UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.