Councillors have deferred a decision on whether to allow a farm to expand its composting operation.

Staff at Blackbirds Farm, in Aldenham, have been making compost from the green waste collected by local authorities for around ten years.

As part of the process, grass cuttings, hedge trimmings, and even Christmas trees, are delivered to the farm before being shredded and left in ‘maturation pads’ to decompose.

The end product is used to fertilize the fields around Blackbirds Farm where crops are grown.

Now the farm has applied to increase the amount of green waste it can process, from 8,000 tonnes a year to 23,500 tonnes a year.

They have asked for permission to continue to use two existing maturation pads – and to add two new ones too.

They want to increase the number of permitted HGV movements to and from the site, from ten to 16.

But at a meeting of the county council’s development control committee on April 25, councillors agreed to defer the decision on the controversial proposal.

That’s because they considered that more clarity was needed, as to the impact of tractors and large trailers – used on public highways around the farm – in addition to the use of HGVs.

Meanwhile a further item on the agenda outlining possible enforcement action was also deferred.

This relates to the use of a maturation pad in the farm’s ‘School Field’ area, which is reported not to have planning permission and which has been the subject of a number of complaints.

It was agreed by the committee that the possible enforcement action could not be dealt with in isolation.