CAMPAIGNERS furious at the prospect of a huge extension to a waste tip in Lower Compton, near Calne have won a crucial High Court Victory.

Hills Waste, who have been handling large quantities of waste at the 4.8 hectare site, had plans to maintain and expand its materials recycling facility, but this was met by stiff competition from residents and Wiltshire Waste Alliance, who have been fighting the firm in a bid to uphold the proposal for a number of years.

An existing recycling facility on the land at Lower Compton, measuring almost 2,000 square metres was granted planning permission in 1997. But that was only temporary, and permission required the building's removal and restoration of the site by December 2016.

In a pre-emptive move, Hills Waste sought fresh permission in 2014, enabling it to both keep and extend the existing building.

The planned extension would cover an extra 3,770 square metres, making it 5,704 metres in all, and the facility would handle up to 119,000 tonnes of municipal and green waste per year.

Wiltshire Council refused Hills Waste's application, but the company appealed to a government planning inspector, who upheld the appeal following a public inquiry last year and granted planning consent.

For years, campaigners have been fighting against Hills proposal to extend the Lower Compton materials recycling facility, arguing against the impact it will have on the environment and pollution levels.

Wiltshire Waste Alliance mounted a court challenge to the inspector's ruling, but Hills Waste continued to fight for the planning permission, urging High Court Judge Sir Ross Cranston not to intervene.

However, Sir Cranston handed victory to the campaign group and overturned the permission, Sending Hills Waste back to the drawing board, who argued that even if permission was refused, it would be entitled to keep the facility open. Permanent planning permissions in respect of other parts of the site would enable it to retain the building and put it to a significant number of uses.

Sir Cranston ruled that the planning inspector had committed a "momentary slip" and "failed to give proper consideration to the limits of the existing consents."

The High Court ruling means the issue of the site's future must now be fully reconsidered by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Sir Cranston said the adequacy of the environmental statement in respect of the site would also have to be looked at again.

A spokesman for Hills Waste, said: "Whilst we are disappointed by the Court decision we are pleased that the Court found in Hills’ favour on 3 of the 5 grounds of claim. We are grateful for the Court’s clarification that the site at Lower Compton is a Strategic Site under Wiltshire Council’s waste development plan and the activities undertaken at the site are in accordance with existing planning permissions.  

"We are confident that should there be need for this application to be reconsidered with further detail by the Planning Inspectorate that the court judgement issued will not fundamentally alter the positive decision reached at the original appeal.   

"However, our preferred option for the provision of waste management for the County is to deliver the plans for redevelopment of the Sands Farm facility, extension of the landfill and mineral extraction operations at Lower Compton and provision of a private internal link road to reduce traffic movements in Calne. Five planning applications in relation to this preferred option were submitted to the local planning authority in October 2017. The company notes that the Court’s judgement does not impact the planning authority’s ability to determine these applications.

"Should the plans for our preferred option be approved then we will give an undertaking not to pursue development of the planned extension at the Lower Compton Materials Recycling Facility subject to this section 288 review".