Civic chiefs have today refused a controversial plan to double the operation of a recycling plant in Kings Worthy.

The decision was met by a round of applause from around 30 residents.

Ecogen Recycling Ltd, in Stoke Charity Road, wanted to increase the number of lorry movements - resulting in 80 HGVs going through Kings Worthy.

Hampshire County Council regulatory committee debated the proposal and heard from local residents and the applicant.

The council's officers recommended that the plan be refused based on the potential disturbance the increased lorries could cause to nearby residents.

Currently, Ecogen is allowed to handle 30,000 tonnes of waste each year and is restricted to 40 HGV movements per day - 20 in and 20 out – but it wanted the council to alter these conditions to allow it to import 60,000 tonnes of waste and double HGV movements.

A total of 264 comments were received, eight of which in support. A petition with 1,006 signatures was also received.

Seven residents spoke to the committee in objection to the plan. Each resident was met with a round of applause by members of the public. Three people spoke in support.

Steve Waters and Signe Biddle spoke on behalf of Kings Worthy Parish Council.
Mr Waters, a retired police traffic officer, said: "As residents, we have been blighted by the HGVs. If the lorries meet, they don't have enough space to pass, they have to mount the curb.

"Road users may find it unsafe if increasing lorries use Lovedon Lane. This is completely unacceptable. I plead with you to refuse this application."

Ms Biddle said: "The parish council objects to the application on the grounds of highway safety.

"It would be detrimental to the residents. The road needs to be twice the width for HGVs to pass safely. The current infrastructure can't support more lorries."

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Andy Key, from Cycle Winchester , said: "This is a major cycling route. Local groups and individuals use it for exercise and leisure during the week. It is important for public health."

Steve Webster lives next to the site and shares an entrance with it. In support of the proposal, he said: "Ecogen are good neighbours. They regularly share information with us and we have no problem with them.

"We are not impacted by noise, it does not disturb us. Horses get used to the lorries, they don't take any notice of them."

Dr Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association, told the committee that the site was crucial for the increased demand on resources. However, he also said that he is not a local resident.

Richard Osborn, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said: "Ecogen recycling has an increasing demand which needs to be met.

"The applicant has worked closely with the council on this. The noise levels would be less than it is currently. We find it difficult to see why it has been recommended for refusal."

Cllr Jackie Porter spoke to the committee and agreed with the reasons for refusal.

The committee's chairman Cllr Peter Latham said: "On balance, I support the recommendations to refuse.

"But nothing will change, lorries will still drive through the area. We have to recycle one million tonnes of waste a year by 2030. We are nowhere close to that.

"However noise is an acceptable reason to refuse."

The committee agreed to refuse the changes, with 12 votes for, none against and three abstentions.