A multi-million pound waste process plant has finally opened in the heart of the Dearne Valley after years of planning.
The cogs finally creaked into operation for the first time at the huge BDR Waste Partnership plant in Manvers last Monday - which will process 1, 000 tonnes of household waste from across Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster every single day once it is fully operational.
Project leaders have been extolling the virtues of the environmentally-friendly scheme and promoted how it will reduce carbon emissions.
But what about life for the people who live in the huge factory’s imposing shadow?
Residents and business owners delivered a mixed verdict this week.
Some welcomed the facility and said it will go a long way towards reducing the amount of rubbish which goes to landfill and contributes to clogging up the atmosphere.
But others said it may cause more problems than it solves amid concerns the number of lorries going to and from the site will cause a traffic nightmare on the Dearne’s already over-saturated road network.
Project bosses revealed 150 trucks will transport waste in and out of the site daily, along many of the Dearne’s main roads.
Father-of-two Sean Gibbons, 40, of Park Road, Mexborough, said: “Doncaster Road in Mexborough is grid locked at rush hour as it is. The road goes through Conisbrough and Denaby but it is worst in Mexborough.
“I think the facility itself is actually a good thing and will reduce the impact on the environment. But I can’t imagine how bad the roads will be when you add in all of these lorry movements on top of it.”
Plasterer Andy Antcliffe, 46, who works at Cornice Designs Ltd close to the waste plant, added: “I get the bus in and the roads are already extremely busy. It will just take even longer to get into work.”
Paul Collinswood, 52, who owns Manvers-based firm Five Star Optical, said: “They have put the facility in the wrong place. The roads won’t be able to handle it. I think they should look at improving the whole road network. This has been a problem for years.”
Kevin Jones, 63, owner of Hungry Tums cafe in Manvers, said: “A lot of people are talking about the traffic issue. It could be a big problem a peak times.”
Resident Les Atkins, 70, of Green Gate Close, Bolton-upon-Dearne, added: “It will be a big addition to the number of vehicles on the roads. I think people will notice the difference. It might make journey times to work longer.”
Dearne MP John Healey said: “Lorries were a fear during planning for the plant, and may prove to be a problem. But residents who were strongly against the site have said how little disruption the construction has caused – especially compared to the Next building – so they and I hope this will now continue as the plant starts operating.”
A map released by the Barnsley Doncaster Rotherham (BDR) Waste Partnership, which will operate the facility, shows there will be about 750 lorry movements in and out of the site every week. This includes 43 truck loads per day along Doncaster Road, Mexborough, which motorists have long complained grounds to a halt at rush hour. The trucks will also use the main roads which go through Conisbrough, Denaby, Swinton, Wath, Bolton-upon-Dearne and Goldthorpe.
A company spokeswoman said the routes were approved by planning chiefs at Rotherham Council in 2012.
She added: “The majority of the movements will take place during the day to coincide with the refuse collection service run by Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley Councils. Refuse collection vehicles (RCV) journeys to and from the site will mainly take place outside of peak hours due to the logistics of their collection rounds, thus avoiding the busiest times of day.
“Peak times are expected to be between 10am and 11am, and between 1pm and 2.30pm.”
The Bolton Road site, which has created 40 new jobs, will churn 250, 000 tonnes of waste per annum over the next 25 years from 340,000 South Yorkshire households.
The rubbish will be treated in a ‘mechanical biological treatment’ facility that will maximise recycling by extracting any overlooked plastic, steel, aluminium and glass. Any remaining material will either be sent to power firm Scottish and Southern Energy’s Ferrybridge Power Station in West Yorkshire for energy production, or used on site to produce electricity and form compost.
It will help to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 114,000 tonnes a year.
Government grants totalling £77.4 million paid for the building’s construction and it will be fully operational by July.
The BDR Waste Partnership operation is made up of the Shanks Group plc, one of Europe’s leading waste management businesses, Scottish and Southern Energy plc and the councils in Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley in a deal worth more than £750 million.
Site manager Beth Clarke said: “This facility will increase recycling, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, make energy from waste and create new jobs.”