Documents: Special Interest: Gardening In England:

RHS Garden Wisley at Risk from

Commercial Waste Management Sites
by RHS
December 28, 2008

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Britain’s leading gardening charity, is calling on people who love gardens and gardening to help it fight two planning applications for commercial waste management sites near its largest garden, at Wisley in Surrey. The RHS is the first to challenge waste planning applications on the grounds of the threat to plant health from wind-borne pathogens released during the waste handling process.

Jim Gardiner, Curator of RHS Garden Wisley said, “Wisley is home to an internationally important plant collection, approaching 30,000 taxa, one of the most comprehensive gardens of cultivated plants in the world which attracts more than 800,000 visitors each year. It holds seven National Plant collections and over 600 of its plants are listed on the IUCN Red Data Book – a directory that identifies particular species including plants and animals, at risk of extinction. If the proposed waste management facilities were approved, all this could be at risk.” Simon Thornton Wood, Director of Science and Learning, RHS, said, “Too little is known about the impact of bioaerosols released from industrial scale waste sites. We believe we are the first organisation to challenge waste planning applications under the EU Waste Framework Directive concerning risk to plants. We have commissioned a report from independent environmental consultants, ENVIRON, which indicates that there is a significant risk to plant health and an identifiable risk to the ecological health of the surrounding area.”

The applications are to be based at Former Wisley Airfield and Nutberry Farm less than a mile from the garden. Both proposed developments would introduce biogdegradable waste from a variety of sources increasing the risk that pathogens could be released during the loading and unloading, shredding and turning of mature compost.

The RHS has been working closely with local residents in the Wisley Airfield Action Group (WAAG) and adjacent Parish Councils. The charity is appealing through its website to its 360,000 strong membership to register objections to the planning proposals.

James Rudoni, Head of RHS Wisley, said, “We hope that Surrey residents who value having a world class garden on their doorsteps will support us, but you do not have to live locally to register an objection – every single letter of protest counts. I would urge everyone who appreciates the value of gardens and gardening to help us protect Wisley from this planning threat.”

The RHS is a keen advocate of home composting. It promotes composting of garden waste to its members and the wider public, and publishes advice on the subject. It also composts its own garden waste at RHS gardens. Unlike the proposed large-scale commercial waste management facilities, its composting is small scale and diseased material is screened out for disposal by other means.

The planning applications for both sites will be heard at committee stage on the 14th January 2009 at the earliest – people wishing to support the RHS can write to Surrey County Council or Guildford Borough Council outlining their objections.

For more information on the Wisley Composting issue please visit

*Article 4 of the European Waste Framework Directive asserts that: Member states shall take the necessary measures to ensure that waste is disposed of without endangering human health and without harming the environment and, in particular, without risk to water, air, soil, plants and animals.

The planning applications for both sites will be heard at committee stage on the 14th January 2009 at the earliest – people wishing to support the RHS should write to Surrey County Council or Guildford Borough Council with their objections - Surrey County Council website:

• Former Wisley Airfield application number: GU08/1472

• Nutberry Farm application number: GU08/0825 Guildford Borough Council planning pages:

• Former Wisley Airfield application number:08/P/01472

• Nutberry Farm application number: 08/P/00825

For more information on the IUCN Red Data Book visit or for a list of plants found at RHS Garden Wisley please contact Nicole Russell, RHS Press Office, 020 7821 3670

An international consultancy, ENVIRON works with clients to help resolve their environmental and human health issues.

We combine resources across geographic boundaries and technical and scientific disciplines to provide clients with the best, most responsive team – whether responding to existing challenges, evaluating opportunities to improve performance, or looking to reduce future liabilities.

RHS Composting Advice

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people’s lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturalists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

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