Controversial plans for a multi-million pound expansion of a West Norfolk sewage treatment plant have been backed by planning officials ahead of a key meeting this week.
Residents and local representatives have both opposed the proposal for the Anglian Water facility at Clenchwarton, amid particular concerns over the road network around the site.
But members of the Norfolk County Council planning committee have been urged to approve the scheme when they meet in Norwich on Friday.
A report to members said the committee was only being asked to look at it because of a request by ward councillor Alexandra Kemp.
It added: “The development is considered acceptable and there are no considerations that indicate it should not be permitted.”
Anglian Water revealed its intention to build a new £4.5 million sludge reception centre at the Clockcase Lane site last July.
The company says the facility is needed to enable the plant to operate at its full capacity of 19,000 tonnes per year. It currently operates at around 60 per cent of that.
An earlier proposal to build a similar centre at West Lynn was rejected by the county council in December 2013. That decision was subsequently upheld by a government inspector.
But opponents of the new scheme maintain the road network cannot cope with the lorries that already service the site.
They fear that traffic levels will only rise if the scheme is permitted, particularly as the report reveals the applicant has identified several sewage works within a 40 mile radius from where material could be brought to Clenchwarton for processing.
The village’s parish council unanimously voted to object to the scheme last September, arguing that no expansion of the plant could be allowed without a new road.
One resident said of Clockcase Lane: “The huge number of repairs and inspections for such a short village lane probably makes this the most expensive road to maintain in England and is a shocking waste of NCC taxpayers (money).”
However, although planning officers said it was “regrettable” that options for importing sludge to the site by river had not been more fully explored, there were no transport grounds for the plan to be turned down.
They said: “The proposals would decrease overall vehicle movements to the site and the Highway Authority does not object to the proposals subject to conditions.”
The report said the fall would be achieved by delivering the sludge in a more solid form, which is a lower volume, and by cleaning those lorries so they could then deliver the treated material to farmers on leaving the site.
Anglian Water managers have previously claimed that any bid for a new road would not win planning permission because of the likely loss of farm land which also caused the West Lynn plan to be shelved.