Council Apologise Over Wimbledon Cement Plant

Dust cloud spotted at facility operating without a permit

The Cappagh Cement plant. Picture: Google Streetview

Merton council has issued an apology over a permit blunder involving a controversial cement plant in Wimbledon.

Nearly a year after a dust cloud was spotted above the cement loading plant, the council has apologised for approving its permit before it came in front councillors.

Last June, a dust cloud was seen above the plant belonging to Cappagh in Waterside Way, Wimbledon.

The company applied for a permit in August last year for the unloading of bulk cement from a lorry into a silo which holds up to 26 tonnes.

A statement from Councillor Hayley Ormrod, who represents Trinity ward was read out at a Merton Council meeting on Tuesday, 30 April.

It said: “I am deeply concerned about the lack of an investigation into an incident at the Cappagh site last summer which caused a vast quantity of dust to be discharged into the atmosphere and then into the Wandle River.”

Statement being read out at meeting. Picture: Merton TV

According to the council, the incident was captured on social media with a video showing a large cloud of dust coming from the site.

But a report from the council said an investigation was inconclusive.

It said: “Following discussion with Cappagh, it was considered likely that the cloud was due to a contractor attaching, in error, a road tanker to a vertical silo no longer in use.”

When the company applied for the permit, it received 36 public objections – very high for this type of application.

But the council states this was not enough to refuse the application as they related to the site and individuals’ lack of trust in the company as a whole.

Due to the unprecedented level of interest in the application, it was expected to come before the council for scrutiny.

But it was approved in March without this happening.

At Tuesday’s meeting Chris Lee, director of environment and regeneration at the council, said: “I wanted to apologise to members and to the public because the process that we agreed with members to deal with this permit application wasn’t followed.

“We’re looking at why that happened and we have an internal investigation to find out what went wrong we have very good procedures to deal with environmental permitting.

“This generated a level of public interest which was beyond anything we’ve seen before so we agreed a different process to deal with it and we didn’t manage to bring it in front of members before that decision was taken.”

Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter

May 1, 2019