RESIDENTS are protesting against plans to make a temporary plasterboard recycling centre in a rural area permanent.

More than 25 residents from Winston, County Durham, and neighbouring villages in North Yorkshire mounted a demonstration outside the Agricore business, at Hill Top Farm, near Winston.

Durham County Council granted temporary permission for the business to operate on the farm five years ago. It is due to expire and owner Ian Bainbridge is seeking a permanent change of use.

Resident Kate Nichols, who is among the objectors, said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned about both Durham and North Yorkshire county councils’ lack of concern about the impact this site will have on our roads and amenity if permanent permission is granted.

“The principal of an industrial site in a beautiful rural area with very poor transport links is the main objection.

“Secondly there is the disruption from wagons on very narrow and twisty roads and there is the issue of dust.”

North Yorkshire county councillor Angus Thompson said: “We have got a real problem in villages like Caldwell, Forcett and East Layton.

“It is creating a great deal of distress with residents who are pretty fed up with banging HGVs going past their front doors.”

Neil Shaefer, 47, of Caldwell, said: “The roads around here were not built for HGVs and there are several small bridges in the surrounding area which simply cannot take any more weight but as far as I am aware, no structural surveys have been carried out to ascertain this.

“Some of these bridges were built thousands of years ago when horse and carts were around – not HGVs.”

Agricore owner Ian Bainbridge said: “We were granted temporary planning permission with the hope that the business would continue to grow and that we would grow out of that site and have to not only be required to move, but have the financial incentive to move.

“Unfortunately, things have changed over the last five years we have reached the cross roads where there is no further growth.

“We can continue to operate at that site. We have 20 people who are directly or indirectly employed by the business who are secure in these times of uncertainty.

“If we are forced to move because of the finances involved and the investment we have made we are we do not have the ability to and these jobs and everything linked to them will go.

“We have a successful business dealing with plasterboard from all over the region and Scotland and have 300 farming customers who take our gypsum to use as fertilizer.”

He added: “The road is classed as a freight route. All of the consultees, the highways agency, for Durham and North Yorkshire as well as the Environment Agency, have no objections. We are not expanding the business. We are not seeking to change anything. We just want to continue as we are.”