Waste plant ‘threat’ to packaging firm

By Mark Elson   |   Senior Reporter   |
Wednesday 17th January 2018 10:10 am
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A CENTURY-old company has waded into the row over plans for a thermal waste plant on the outskirts of a Severnside village, claiming it could damage its food packaging business.

More than 275 objections to the Portskewett plan have been sent to Monmouthshire’s planning department, and one of the area’s oldest employers says the development could put 65 local jobs at risk, with “catastrophic” consequences for the local economy.

Caldicot Metal Decorating (CMD) has operated from the Severn Bridge Industrial Estate site for 109 years, and claims any suggestion of air pollution could hit its trade in China.

DPS Process Solutions wants to install two 15.5 metre-high stainless steel chimneys at the estate to treat up to 20,000 tonnes of waste per year.

But CMD – the “largest independent metal decorator in the UK”, which has recently invested £5m in a new print line – says it would jeopardise a key contract supplying decorated metal packaging for baby milk, 80 per cent of which is exported to China, where the shockwaves of the ‘Chinese milk scandal’ are still being felt.

Stating that the firm may be forced to relocate if the waste plant gets the go ahead, CMD planning agent Cai Parry told Monmouthshire planners: “The Chinese infant formula market is extremely sensitive to the perception of food hygiene standards following the ‘Chinese milk scandal’ in 2008.

“Food safety standards within the infant formula industry remain a sensitive issue, with a further scandal affecting a French infant formula market this month.

“Within the infant formula industry every part of the supply chain is closely scrutinised and CMD is subject to annual audits with the International Organisation for Standardisation as well as their key clients, Nestle and Abbott.

“The perceived quality of our client’s product to the overseas market is critical to the continued operation of the facility, and any damage to CMD’s image and brand or loss of business could be catastrophic for the local economy.”

His letter added: “The proposed development involves the thermal treatment of waste and the emission and dispersion of exhaust gases into the air within close proximity of our client’s food packaging manufacturing facility, and the visual perception of such a use would be detrimental to CMD’s long-established brand and quality image.”

Air pollution from a waste plant could impact the safety of the product as well, and be “extremely harmful” to the business.

“CMD supports 65 highly-skilled local jobs and any loss of business from China... would be devastating to the local economy,” claimed Mr Parry.

Approval of the plan would give CMD “no choice other than to consider the potential relocation of its facility,” he added.

Two MPs, an AM, a county council leader, councils and businesses have joined local residents in objecting to the scheme close to a primary school and homes, which would import medical waste, car parts and plastics across the Severn Bridge to be converted into electricity.

DPS says no hazardous materials would be accepted at the facility, which it says has been wrongly labelled an “incinerator”.

Nia Morrison, of the county council’s development management team, has also given the proposal a clean bill of health, saying “it is unlikely to result in a significant adverse effect on the environment.”

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