Anger over cement firm's expansion plans

ENVIRONMENT officers have refused to regard noise emitted by an Ipswich cement company as a public nuisance.

Tom Potter

ENVIRONMENT officers have refused to regard noise emitted by an Ipswich cement company as a public nuisance.

Their decision came despite Liz Harsant, the leader of Ipswich Borough Council, admitting noise from the company's operations constantly disturbed her sleep.

A heated meeting of the council executive at Grafton House on Tuesday heard from residents opposing an application by Southern Cement, based in Cliff Quay, to vary the conditions of an environmental permit.

Ipswich Borough Council's environmental protection services manager, Steve Rock, said that until technology existed capable of reducing emissions, the council had no justification in refusing permission for a third 35 metre high silo at the site.

He added that noise pollution could not be controlled by the type of permit currently held by Southern Cement and the variation applied for by the company.

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News of Southern Cement's plan to expand operations was met by a 14 signature petition being handed to the council, by residents of Wherstead Road.

The petition, published in council papers, claims that Southern Cement breached previous environmental conditions by allowing dust into the atmosphere which reached Wherstead Road and Bourne Park.

Louise Gooch, environmental services chief, said the council heavily regulated Southern Cement.

She said: “Between 2002 and 2008 the council has received one complaint about the company, which has since become the target of a campaign to end its operations.”

Wherstead Road resident Des Pawson said the matter affected “a very large number of people”. He showed councillors a health warning label printed on bags of cement produced by the company, which he claimed reaches an area of Ipswich including four schools when released into the atmosphere.

Mr Pawson said: “If Southern Cement is allowed to expand, the public will be subject to more dust and noise.”

Stoke Park councillor Paul West said the issue affected people living in the north of his ward who felt frustrated and unable to excerpt any influence over the issues of air pollution and noise - a hum which is said to happen intermittently for between 36 and 48 hours at a time, once every fortnight.

Mr Rock said officers would not consider noise levels a statutory nuisance despite the leader of the council Liz Harsant saying the noise woke her up constantly at her Salisbury Road home.

A public meeting will be held at IP-City Centre in Bath Street, Ipswich, on October 6 before a decision is made on whether or not to grant the permit variation to Southern Cement.