RESIDENTS living near the former Groundwell park and ride site came together yesterday to express anger over plans to move waste from the Averies Recycling fire to the site.
Around 60 people protested against the plans announced on Wednesday, which will eventuaally see around half of the non-hazardous waste from the Marshgate base moved to the Swindon Council-owned site.
It will allow firefighters to deal more quickly with the blaze that has been going since July 21.
Firefighters are working with Averies, Swindon Council, NHS England, Wiltshire Police and the Environment Agency to deal with the incident.
Glynis Hales, who lives in Penhill, said: “This plan needs more thought as it was decided by a few individuals and not the full council. The feeling in Penhill is that the council think we are rubbish and that they’re happy to dump rubbish here. I know that might not be the case but that is the feeling.
“I do appreciate that the people living at Marshgate are suffering but the council shouldn’t make both areas suffer.”
Residents are concerned by the affect the waste could have on air quality, nearby water and the wildlife living around the park and ride site.
Nigel Fraser, who lives in Queensfield, said: “I feel bloody angry. It is a private business who the council are putting before residents who live here.”
Motorists beeped in support of the protesters who were waving banners which read “don’t dump waste on our community” and “no fly-tipping”.
Some Swindon councillors also went to the demonstration to back the residents.
Coun Joe Tray (Lab, Penhill and Upper Stratton), said: “This is a fantastic turnout within hours notice and shows the strength of feeling in this community.
Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot and Park North), the North Swindon Parliamentary Candidate, said: “If the council do not listen to these people they will be making a huge error.
“The site is not designed or licensed for the storage of waste. I think the authorities should use a specialised site.”
As the park and ride compound is covered by trees, the authorities claim that the waste will be out of sight. All of the burnt waste will be fully extinguished and checked before being taken to the site. It will also be covered over to reduce adverse smells.
In addition to the high perimeter fencing at the compound there will also be 24-hour security.
Once the Marshgate fire is put out the authorities aim to return the waste to Averies.
Coun David Renard, Swindon Council Leader (Con, Haydon Wick), said: “Numerous sites have been considered and this site meets the necessary criteria agreed with partner agencies. Public safety is the number one priority and I can reassure residents that no waste which poses any danger to them will be transferred to the site.”
Averies has repeatedly apologised for the issues that the fire has caused to Swindon’s residents and businesses. North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson (Con) wants to see the Averies fire extinguished as quickly as possible.
He said: “Frankly, the Environment Agency should be forcing Averies’ insurance to pay for the safe storage of the waste. I’m disappointed that the agency isn’t using the full force of the law to bring this to a swift conclusion for the sake of local residents.”
Concerned residents can attend a meeting at St Peter’s Church Hall, in Penhill, at 7pm tonight.