Recycling site ‘will endanger children’s health’

Strathesk Primary pupils protest against the planned recycling facility. Picture: JULIE BULL

Strathesk Primary pupils protest against the planned recycling facility. Picture: JULIE BULL

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Horrified parents claim proposals to build a major recycling facility next to a 
primary school will put their children at risk.

Midlothian Council plans to build the facility at Eastfield Industrial Estate in Penicuik, just a stone’s throw from Strathesk Primary.

If approved, the new facility, which would be open to the public, will replace the existing community recycling centre in Penicuik, which serves households in the west of the region.

All recyclable materials will be accepted at the centre for later processing elsewhere.

But angry parents at the school – which has around 400 pupils – say the facility will generate a spike in traffic, putting the youngsters’ lives at risk.

They also claim the nature of the waste will pose a health risk.

Their fears have been echoed by the school’s headteacher and staff, who have also objected to the application.

Campaigner Correen Hope, 36, whose daughter, Sarah, nine, attends the school and who has a three-year-old son, Andrew, at nursery, said: “Parents are horrified at the plans.

“The nature of the waste deposited, including gas cylinders, broken glass, oil and batteries, we feel poses danger to school pupils.

“We have concerns over the health implications. The kids are going to be sitting in the classrooms while there’s glass breaking, cars beeping and bin lorries going back and forth – it’s going to cause disruption to lessons.

“Dust, debris, vermin and litter are also causes for concern.”

Ms Hope, who works for NHS Lothian, has collected a petition signed by 140 people which she plans to present to the council’s petitions committee on May 14.

Among the objectors is the school’s headteacher, Liz Barton. She said: “The dumping of rubbish in large containers and the use of machinery will most definitely be heard by the pupils as their playground will share a boundary.

“The playground in the nursery is used throughout the day and loud noises will no doubt frighten most of our children, in particular those children with additional support needs.

“We are also concerned about any hazardous waste that may be stored in the centre and the effect this may have.”

The plan has also attracted an objection from Skanska, which built the school in a Public Private Partnership deal.

Stephen Monaghan, regional facilities manager, said the main concern was the increased danger due to the high volume of heavy freight traffic and waste transfer HGVs.

A risk to human health from chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA), commonly found in paper recycling facilities, has been speculated upon from animal experiments.

A Midlothian Council spokeswoman said: “The bulk of the traffic to the facility would be outwith school times.”

dawn.morrison@edinburghnews.com

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