SEVERAL rural Mid Devon communities have delivered more than 100 letters objecting to a potential landfill site they claim could seriously threaten the health and safety of residents.

The correspondence, sent to Devon County Council planners, are the latest development in a long-running battle by people in Sampford Peverell, Halberton, Uplowman and surrounding towns and villages against the proposed scheme.

Campaigners organised a coffee morning at Sampford Peverell village hall where residents wrote letters and children drew pictures, explaining they wouldn’t be able to play outside or be safe if the landfill goes ahead.

A company called Decharge has applied to dump roughly 330,000 cubic tonnes of inert soil and stones in temporary landfill at land off Greenway, to the north of Halberton, and operate a construction waste recycling facility.

The plan is to return the land to agricultural use afterwards.

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

Oscar King, a seven-year-old Sampford Peverell Church of England Primary School pupil, delivered the letters to the county council in a home-made post box.

“We already have loads of lorries here, so I’m really sad about this application, because if it goes ahead I won’t be able to play outside with my friends any more,” he said.

Oscar’s father, Oliver, added that “everything about this application is wrong. It’s the wrong plan for the location, and the wrong location for the plan.

“We’re worried that conflicting information in the applications to Devon County Council and the Environment Agency means the council committee members won’t know the full scale of the impact this will have.

“If the application is approved, it will destroy the environment and our communities, and the children’s play areas will fall into disuse as they are just feet away from the road.”

Mr King said Oliver receives treatment for a lung condition he was born with, and that if the landfill gets the go-ahead, lorries would “pass just the other side of the hedge where our two boys play”.

While district councils usually decide planning applications, in this instance the county has the power to approve or reject it because it has the say on mineral and waste-related schemes.

A Devon County Council spokesperson said a timescale for the decision had not yet been set, and that the council’s highways department is “yet to submit its final response” about the plans.

Simon Coles, a director at Carney Sweeney, the agent acting for Decharge, said the firm is aware of residents’ concerns about HGVs, but said the proposed route is already used by lorries and farm vehicles.

HGVs movements linked to the landfill would not take place on weekends or bank holidays, and Mr Coles said discussions are ongoing about possible restrictions during school drop-off and pick-up times.

He continued: “We understand that there are suggestions that an access off the A361 would be less detrimental.

“However, the section of land which the farmer owns adjacent to the A361 is approximately 10 metres lower than the dual carriageway, and therefore substantial earthworks would be required to form a suitable access which would need to include long slip roads on and off the carriageway.”

Mr Coles added that the planning application to Devon County Council and the permitting procedure to the Environment Agency call for different information.

“A planning application should assess the effects of the proposed development not only in respect of the on-site operation, but also the effects off-site, for example traffic generation and highway safety,” he said.

“By contrast, the EA permit procedure relates principally to the operation of the activity and ensuring that environmental hazards are appropriately identified and mitigated throughout the lifetime of the activity.”

He added that any conditions linked to a potential approval of the scheme “must be complied with”.

By Bradley Gerrard