A COUNTY councillor has claimed opponents of a controversial recycling scheme attempted to have him deselected ahead of this year’s local elections over his support for the project.

There were public demonstrations in the run up to decision day on an application to grant permanent permission for a plasterboard processing facility to remain at its current base at Hill Top Farm, in Winston, County Durham.

And according to Cllr James Rowlandson, who represents the village, the strength of feeling was such that protestors contacted his political party bosses over the issue.

“This is one of the most talked about and probably divisive planning applications I’ve been involved in,” the Barnard Castle East councillor told Tuesday's meeting of Durham County Council’s County Planning Committee.

“I was one of the supporters of the original application five years ago and it seems to have [led to] some malicious and divisive behaviour.

“One of the objectors rang my county chairman of the Conservatives to object to not having support from me and would like me replaced in the upcoming election.”

Opposition to the plans by Agricore, a waste processing business which had previously been granted a temporary five-year permit to operate in 2015, focussed on road safety in the area, as well as the impact of dust and noise on families living nearby.

The firm extracts gypsum from waste plasterboard, most of which is sold to farmers in the region as a fertiliser.

Cllr Rowlandson has previously found himself holding an unpopular opinion, such as last year (2020) when he claimed former Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings had been put ‘through the wringer’ over his controversial trip to County Durham.