Plans for a waste recycling plant in Birmingham have been thrown out after safety experts warned lives could be put at risk.
The Health and Safety Executive warned the city council that the plant would be too close to the Esso gasoline storage tanks next to Fort Parkway in Erdington.
It claimed that in the event of an explosion at the small-scale plant, the lives of a handful of staff on site would be lost.
The planning committee was split over the decision, with some arguing that if the HSE advice rule had been applied over the last 70 years the Fort Shopping Park, elevated section of the M6 motorway, Tamworth rail line and Fort Parkway would never have been built.
Coun Barry Henley (Lab Brandwood) said that if workers at the proposed waste plant were in danger then hundreds of shoppers at BHS, River Island, Next and Marks and Spencer would also ‘be killed’.
He accused the HSE of becoming over-cautious and high-handed as a reaction to the Bunsfield depot explosion in 2005.
He said: “This plant will not increase the risk nor lower it.
‘‘As long as it is designed appropriately, with barriers to stop vehicles, there is no reason to refuse this.
‘‘The HSE is not giving sensible guidance.”
But his colleague Mike Sharpe (Lab Tyburn) said he recalled an accident when an Esso driver had a heart attack and crashed into Spaghetti Junction.
“You could hear the explosion miles away. They closed Spaghetti Junction for eight months.
‘‘There might be 300 shoppers at risk already, but could lose even more lives as a result of this planning application, that is why I cannot support it.”
Recycling firm FM Conway Ltd wanted to recycle waste from roads, drains and gutters into sand, stone, clean water and litter on the site off Wood Lane.
But the HSE refused to lower its objections following extensive talks with the firm and council.
The committee voted by seven to four to reject the plan.