Changes to the way potentially explosive fertiliser is stored at Falmouth Docks have been agreed this week, paving the way for new development in that area of town.

The Health and Safety Executive had imposed consultation zones, referred to locally as “blast zones,” around the docks which forced Cornwall Council to turn down several planning applications over the years.

Keen to minimise the effect the storage of ammonium nitrate (AN) has on the surrounding area, A&P Falmouth applied to the council seeking a new consent with conditions that will ensure tighter controls are put in place on the quantities of AN that may be stored on site.

The application went before Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee on Tuesday when it was given the unanimous backing of councillors. The new conditions will now lead to the reduction of the consultation zones.

Planning case officer, Matthew Williams, told councillors: “The changes to the current operational conditions will result in improvements to on site operations, the reduction of risk of the facility to the local population and will also lead to a reduction to the HSE consultation zones, thus facilitating the potential for redevelopment of a number of sites within the docks and within Falmouth.”

The town’s mayor, Geoffrey Evans, attended the meeting as the Cornwall Council representative for Arwenack and spoke in favour of the application. He said afterwards: “Something had to be done and this seems to be the best way forward and the safest.

“We have to move forward, we cannot stand still. This has taken six or seven years now and goes back to the days of Carrick District Council. I only supported it because the HSE said it was OK.”

Peter Child, managing director of A&P Falmouth, said: “A&P Falmouth are delighted with the positive outcome on this issue. We worked closely with the planners and agreed to modify our deemed consent and revised the storage pattern and through-put of fertiliser to achieve this result which has eased any restriction on developments in the docks vicinity and will help develop the fertiliser business through the port, which is vital to Cornish farmers and the agriculture industry generally.”