Turning unspoilt countryside into a recycling plant. R.L.
A British couple whose home looks out across an unspoilt valley on the northern edge of Coín, were horrified to discover that a plot of 215,000 square metres right in front of their home could become an industrial recycling plant within the next year and a half. To make matters worse for the couple, the council in Coín supports the planned development, saying the 16 million euro project will bring much needed jobs to the area.
Lynda Elliot and her partner Bradley Wolfenden could not believe it was true when they first heard of the plans through a neighbour. “We went to see a technician at the town hall to ask how they thought the site would be accessed as we are two kilometres down a dirt track but the man at the town hall just said they didn’t have details like that yet”, said Lynda, adding “There is no information available on the opening hours or how many lorries will be coming backwards and forwards but we do now know what they plan to process at the site.”
According to the council, the site will be used as a recycling centre for concrete and rubble, precious metal recovery from discarded electronic equipment and biological composting from organic waste, including sewage sludge. The site will also feature a dump for non-dangerous waste and a store for dangerous waste in transit.
Currently the area covered by the proposed facility consists of open fields in a wide valley, with a stream that eventually flows down to the Río Grande running through the middle of the plot. In the local plan the land is marked as ‘non-urbanisable’.
Having made the proposal for the project on the basis of the size of plot he owns, the private owner of the land next needs the approval of the Junta de Andalucía before the details about the access, development and management of the site can be agreed. While the project had the backing of all Coín’s political groups at a council meeting in June, the Junta de Andalucía now has to carry out an Environmental Impact study of the site. Lynda says “A man from the Junta came along and we asked him what the effect would be on the wildlife in the valley. He said the birds and animals will simply move on to another place and he tried to convince us that the only impact would be visual. I just don’t understand how this can happen.”
Neighbours from other homes are also shocked to find out about the proposals and, according to Lynda and Bradley, some have been able to make objections within the 45 day period offered by the planning process, while others were not aware of the scheme at all. “We only found out because a neighbour was told by another friend” says Lynda.
While Coín council describes the proposed recycling centre to be “a very ambitious project” and claims the new facility would “resolve recycling issues for towns like Coín, Alhaurín el Grande, Cártama, Pizarra, Álora, Casabonela, Tolox, Monda and Guaro”, Bradley is convinced neighbouring councils are unaware of exactly where the plot is located. He says: “This place is completely unspoilt. Councils talk about rural tourism and here they are about to ruin a beautiful spot. Why couldn’t this plant be built in an industrial area?” Lynda asks: “People say that recycling is good for the environment but how can it be if it destroys a beautiful valley like this?”