A massive new facility to deal with Cornwall’s waste and recycling has been approved with councillors urging the operators to place solar panels on the roof of the new building. 

Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee unanimously agreed to grant planning permission for the new facility at Hallenbeagle.

The plant will be able to process up to 140,000 tonnes of waste including black bag waste, recyclable materials and food waste. It will act as a processing centre for waste collected from the kerbside, at dumps and from businesses across Cornwall.

However, it was confirmed at the meeting that food waste which is processed at the new plant will then be transported out of Cornwall to a facility in Devon. 

Carol Mould, cabinet member responsible for waste services, said that the council would ideally have an anaerobic digester facility in Cornwall which could be used for food waste, but said that the Devon facility would be used at first.

Cornwall Council said that the new facility was needed to ensure it can rollout its new waste collection service which will add weekly food waste collections and shift black bag waste to be collected fortnightly to encourage households to recycle more. 

The committee heard that the new service would be operating across Cornwall by 2025.

The planning application approved today was not only for the waste and recycling facilities but also for a site at Wheal Peevor to be used as a site for improving biodiversity. Whilst this site is away from the main proposals it was considered as one planning application.

Emma Smyth from applicants SUEZ told councillors that the new facilities would ensure that the company was ready to process the expected rise in recycling as well as the food waste collected from homes. She also added that the company was willing to add photovoltaic panels to the roof of the new building.

There had been some concerns about light pollution from the new facility and the impact that could have on the Observatory for Cornwall which is located close to the site. It had been requested that planned rooflights might be removed to prevent light pollution and SUEZ had agreed that this could be done.

However, some councillors were concerned that without the roof-lights there would be no natural light into the building for workers inside. The committee heard that this would be taken into consideration when developing the best approach to the issue.

Chacewater Parish Council said that it was in support of the application as were local Cornwall councillors Dulcie Tudor and Stephen Barnes both supported the plans. Cllr Tudor spoke in glowing terms about the observatory, which she said was a “fantastic resource” and said it was important to protect the dark skies in the area to ensure it could continue to be used by future generations.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of granting planning permission along with the conditions which had been detailed by planning officers in their recommendations. They agreed that delegated authority could be given to officers to agree with SUEZ about the rooflights and PV panels in consultation with the committee chair, vice chair and local members.