HIGHWAYS experts have recommended a controversial landfill planning application in Mid Devon be refused, giving campaigners a boost before an official decision.

Residents near the proposed site at Greenway, close to Halberton and Sampford Peverell, have been fighting the proposals for a facility that would hold around 330,000 cubic tonnes of inert construction waste.

The plan, submitted by a company called Decharge, would see the land returned to agricultural use afterwards.

But now, Devon County Council’s highways officers have recommended the scheme be turned down because they’re not happy with answers to some of their questions.

Concerns include the potential for conflict between lorries and cyclists, which it says the applicant has “not shown how [this] will be mitigated to ensure it does not occur”.

They also say no passing places have been proposed for Putson Lane.

Decharge has suggested it could use Enterprise Avenue as an alternative route. However, Devon’s highways team said that road had not yet been “adopted” by the county council, and was still owned by Barratt Homes, which meant the housebuilder had to be consulted.

Other queries included a lack of information as well as misgivings about access to the site, for which officers say the plans aren’t safe or suitable.

Summing up, they claim there would be an “unacceptable impact on highway safety,” the impact “on the road network would be severe” and the proposed development likely to result in conflict between residential and commercial traffic “which would be harmful to highway safety”.

Residents’ concerns had focused on the number of HGVs that would use small country lanes to access the site – up to one every 7.5 minutes, according to the application – and fears about the danger to residents, especially young children.

Carney Sweeney, the firm acting as agent for Decharge, has said it was aware of residents’ concerns, but that the proposed route for its lorries was already used by large vehicles, including HGVs and farm vehicles.

It added that the number of vehicle movements identified in the planning application would be the “maximum number that the operator would be permitted, not the typical daily movement”.

It had held discussions with the council about possible HGV restrictions during school drop-off and pick-up times.

Campaigners queried why the applicant couldn’t access the site from the main A361, which the site borders. But Carney Sweeney said it would “not be viable for a proposal which is not a permanent facility”.

A crowdfunding campaign titled “Say NO to Greenway Landfill Lorries” has now surpassed £7,100, nearing its £7,500 target.

The fundraising effort is being spearheaded by Karl Wiseman, a local resident who said the cash is being used to hire professional support to help block the plans.

Planning expert Janine Banks from South West Planning Consultancy in Tiverton has been commissioned to assist the group, as has highways consultant Jon Pearson.

Mr Wiseman, who lives near the site, said some of the money raised so far had been used to commission reports from both experts, which had now been submitted to Devon County Council.

While district councils usually act as planning authorities, schemes linked to waste are decided by the county council.

A date for when the application will be formally decided has not yet been confirmed.

By Bradley Gerrard