From left: Cllr Andrew Mackness, Mark Reckless MP and Cllr Craig Mackinlay welcome campaign success
Mark Reckless MP, local councillors and residents have welcomed the news that Peel Ports is to cease operation of the wood chip processing and storage facility in Chatham Docks from March, and that the site will be relocated away from Medway.
Following numerous complaints by residents last year when a large stockpile of wood chip material which had built up at Chatham Docks began to decompose causing an acrid smell in the area, Peel Ports have agreed to terminate the lease for the biomass operation located at Berth 8 in Chatham Docks.
Speaking after hearing the news, Mark Reckless said:
“This is welcome news for all the residents on St Mary’s Island and the surrounding affected areas who contacted me regarding this issue. Having worked closely with local councillors and St Mary’s Island Residents Association on this unfortunate matter for some months, I am delighted that it now looks like being resolved.
Peel Ports should be commended for showing that they have listened to residents’ concerns and are acting as a good neighbour. I am sure many on St. Mary’s Island will breathe a huge sigh of relief upon hearing this news.”
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Conservative member for River Ward, said:
“I am pleased and relieved that, following much negotiation, Peel Land and Property, Peel Energy, and Peel Ports have listened to the community and been persuaded to close their wood processing and storage facility on Chatham Docks by the end of March.
Both Mark Reckless and I have strongly supported the campaign against this operation and have worked tirelessly with St Mary’s Island Residents Association (SMIRA) to ensure that the serious problems and concerns associated with the odours and dust, and the possible health implications of this operation are resolved with this decision.
We would also like to thank the Chairman of SMIRA for his drive and determination in helping deliver such a positive outcome.”
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Please see the following statement from Peel Ports which will delivered directly to residents on and around St Mary’s Island over the coming days. Mark would like to thank everyone who has been in touch for their continuing patience and hopes that the matter is now set to be resolved.
Wood Chip Storage at Chatham Docks
We understand that the storage of wood chip material at Chatham Docks continues to cause concern to some of our neighbours.
Regrettably, by September a large stockpile of wood chip material had built up at Chatham Docks and had begun to decompose. As a result, unpleasant odours became evident, and were carried by the wind to some residential areas close to the docks. This has been a very unusual situation for us and we are very sorry that any of our neighbours have been inconvenienced in this way. We are doing all we can to remove the odour-producing material.
The stockpile has now been reduced by more than two thirds and we expect the remainder of to be removed from site by 18 November.
Review of Procedures
We have reviewed our procedures and have introduced tighter controls on the storage and movement of such materials:
- Lower stockpile levels have been agreed with Environment Agency and Kent Fire Service, which we hope will be under the conditions of a new bespoke environmental permit.
- We will no longer store wood and baled waste in the St Mary’s area of the Port.
- We will work to faster turn around times.
We have invested in new processing equipment and additional dust suppression equipment to reduce levels of dust. Additional equipment will be installed, including heat probes, dust suppression, and yard surfacing.
We wish to reassure our neighbours that the odours released from this material are non-toxic. This has been confirmed by the country’s leading toxic chemical analysts in addition to our own testing. At the recommendation of the Environment Agency (EA) and Health Protection Agency (HPA) we commissioned independent occupational health consultants to test air quality on-site.
- Dust measurements were taken around the site, concluding that dust levels were consistent with this type of operation, although some cleaning was recommended in some areas.
- The survey assessed real-time concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), on-site, comparing measurements with typical workplace exposure standards.
The report concludes:
“The VOC readings indicate that the long-term average personal exposure limit was not exceeded during the assessment period and that no significant readings were measured. Workers conducting these activities are not exposed to levels of VOC that may pose a potential risk to health.”
Peel Ports is responsible for the management of Chatham Docks and we are sensitive to the fact that we operate adjacent to residential areas. We take our responsibilities very seriously and our aim is to be a good neighbour. We continue to work closely with the authorities – the EA, the HPA and Kent Fire Service – who all monitor our procedures.
Recycling and Waste Management
Peel Ports – Medway