In January, a planning application was validated by Sunderland City Council for Grab and Deliver Ltd, based at New Herrington Industrial Estate in the Shiney Row ward.
The site has had permission to operate as a waste transfer station for more than a decade.
And according to its website, current operators Grab and Deliver are “construction support specialists” providing a range of waste collection and construction aggregate delivery services to several sectors.
New plans aimed to install a soil washing plant to process construction and demolition waste.
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According to a report prepared for planners, the new machine would be electric rather than diesel-powered and would help the company reduce the amount of waste that needs to go to landfill.
However, the plans sparked opposition from Shiney Row ward councillor, Mel Speding, who said the site has previously been linked to many complaints to both the council and the Environment Agency.
In comments included in a planning report, Cllr Speding raised concerns about the plans leading to an increase in site activities, HGV movements, noise, smells and disturbance.
The plans were recommended for approval by council officers at a meeting of the council’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee on Tuesday, June 8.
According to a report prepared for councillors, the implementation of the machinery was described as a “substantial investment into the business and the area.”
But Cllr Speding, who attended the meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre, said a noise assessment had failed to mention several streets near the site.
He also said traffic movements from the firm had caused an increase in dust and fumes in the area, and claimed that the local authority had stopped him showing photographs and videos at the committee meeting to demonstrate this.
A representative for the applicant, speaking at the meeting, said the recycling and washing plant would reduce the site's carbon footprint.
This included helping Grab and Deliver meet government targets around reducing waste going to landfill, while also complementing the city council’s plans to reduce carbon emissions across Sunderland.
Councillors heard that the company sends around 200 tonnes of construction and demolition waste to landfill every day, at a cost to the company of over £400,000 per year as well as transport and fuel costs.
The new plans aimed to make the company more 'carbon friendly' while reducing the level of traffic to and from the site - with the washing process also "eliminating" dust, vibrations and odour.
Applicants warned that refusing the plans could lead to job losses as the company can not maintain the level of expenses associated with landfill charges.
Following discussion, the plans won unanimous support from the Planning and Highways (West) Committee.
Vice-chair of the committee, councillor Graeme Miller added that the scheme aligned with the council’s green agenda and would make the site more “environmentally sustainable.”
“I will be supporting the planning officer’s recommendation to approve because I think the scheme has a massive number of benefits to the city going forward," he said.