Mark Prisk MP Reiterates Support

Hertford & Stortford MP Mark Prisk has reiterated his support for the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign.

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Writing on his Facebook page he says: “It’s very disappointing to see another attempt to force a quarry onto the community at Bengeo. The case against remains clear – it would be bad for air quality, bad for traffic and bad for water quality. All of us made this clear last time, and like other members of the community I remain opposed to this application, just as I did the last.”

Key Objections to New Proposed Quarry

Key Objections to New Proposed Quarry

These are the initial points in response to the new application for a quarry north of Bengeo. Public responses are needed by 2nd November 2017 sent to HCC Spacial Planning:

  1. The new application area is within the current Minerals Local Plan “preferred area” (you may recall the previous application included areas outside the preferred area zone near zone 1 and the entire zone 4). However, the new draft MLP is in the process of approval and it has been recommended by HCC that Bengeo Field is no longer considered as preferred area. The formal approval of new MLP is expected in 2018.
  2. It is important to point out that in the old (current) MLP this area was agreed as preferred area only as an extension to Rickney’s quarry.
  3. The new proposal suggest extracting 1.25 million tonnes rather than 1.75 million tonnes. It is proposed to last 5-8 years (originally 8-10 years).
  4. This proposal appears to be smaller than the original one. However, proposed hours of operation are 7.00 -18.00 Monday to Friday and 7.00 to 13.00 on Saturdays. Proposed lorry movements are estimated at 80 per day on average (40 in, 40 out). All HGVs to turn left when exiting the site to go along Wadesmill Road to the A602 and A10. This will be a huge impact on roads, traffic and the road entrance (which appears to remain the same – from B158). Queuing lorries concerns remain the same.
  5. The amended application still disrupts use of the footpath because lorries will have to cross it to get to the exit onto the B158, and potentially the loss of amenity is worse because the plant operation will be adjacent to the footpath rather than down the slope next to the road (as suggested in previous application). The byway across the Bengeo Field has been registered as Asset of Community Value by EHDC and its use as local community amenity has been huge (some date has been provided by SBQ landscape & amenity survey)
  6. The new application suggests a new pond (attenuation area) in the middle of the field not far from the current path. Additionally there is no detailed profile of the landscape post quarry and it is unclear how the extracted material will impact on the overall landscape (it will be a big hole). The impact on the beautiful landscape will be immense. A dangerous pond next to the path will not enhance the landscape.The environmental impact will be unacceptable – both fauna and flora. The applicants still plan to quarry right up to ancient St. John’s Wood.
  7. The impact on Bengeo Primary School children and residents of neighbouring residents remains a huge concern. The risk of unacceptable dust and noise risk remain a huge concern for those living around the area.
  8. There will no stockpile area as suggested in the previous application. Instead there will be the mobile dry-screening at the point of extraction (more noise?).
  9. The huge risk of polluting the water supply for the whole of Hertford and surrounding areas remains vital.
  10. Hertfordshire’s gravel needs are already met in surplus, and there is no need for more gravel or more quarries for the next 15 years at least!

The applicants have submitted this new application by presenting amended wording to the previous application. Please DO NOT respond in the same way. Please respond in full, even if you may repeat some of your previous arguments you put forward against the previous application. Please refrain from saying “all my previous arguments stand and additionally….”. It is best if you state ALL your concerns against this new application in full.

The application details should be found here (please click on documents) https://cloud1.atriumsoft.com/HCCePlann…/loadFullDetails.do…

All comments need to be received by 2 November 2017. Please send your response to Ms Felicity J Hart quoting ref: PL\0870\17 – either by email (spatialplanning@hertfordshire.gov.uk) or by post (Felicity Hart, Spatial Planning and Economy Unit, CHN216, County Hall, Hertford SG13 8DN). Everybody can submit their response – if you live outside Hertford it may help to explain your connection (family, visitors, tourists etc). Every letter really matters!

More About The New Quarry Application

Revised plans for a new quarry in Bengeo suggest 3 phases, rather than 4, so the area will be within the current preferred area. It will still be very close to homes and the Bengeo School and the entrance will be still from B158 cutting across the byway/footpath. There will no stockpile area as suggested in the previous application – instead there will be mobile dry-screening at the point of extraction.

Please make sure you send your objections to HCC by 2 November – by email or post (Ms Felicity J Hart, ref: PL\0870\17 – spatialplanning@hertfordshire.gov.uk or Spatial Planning and Economy Unit, CHN216, County Hall, Hertford SG13 8DN).

Although some of the application documents look very similar (or like an amendment of the previous application), this is treated as a completely NEW application, and our responses need to be SEPARATE and COMPLETE from any other letters you sent. What usually happens is that residents don’t respond to the 2nd application as strongly as to the first. We can’t let this happen, as the chance of this application is as strong and real as before. Please don’t let the Bengeo Quarry happen. (We will write about the appeal letter separately very soon).

Click here to see details of the new application on the Hertfordshire County Council website.

Bengeo Quarry Continues to Threaten Hertford’s Landscape and Water

Bengeo Quarry Continues to Threaten Hertford’s Landscape and Water

Supporters of the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign (SBQ) came together for a Summer Walk across Bengeo Field, as the fight to preserve the local landscape continues.  On Sunday 10th September Stop Bengeo Quarry hosted the event, which consisted of a walk to the Woodman pub in Chapmore End, where a day of live music and a barbecue took place for the community event.  More than 120 people attended during the day, to back the fight to Stop Bengeo Quarry, which is getting ready for its next round of campaigning to gain further support.

Adults, children and dogs gathered at the Old Oak Tree on the path at Bengeo Field to begin a day in aid of the green space between Wadesmill and Sacombe Road.  Supporters were invited to wear red for Stop Bengeo Quarry or green to celebrate our countryside, with prizes for the best outfits.  It was a fun day out for all the family, with activities for children along the walk, and a selection of fantastic live music at the Woodman pub, including local acts such as Baron Goodlove and Chloe Turner.  

The campaign now needs the support of the public again as the Bengeo Quarry applicant has appealed against Hertford County Council’s decision to reject the application.  The next stage in the process will require expert consultation which SBQ will need to raise funding for.  SBQ also needs to prepare for the possibility of the Bengeo Quarry applicant making another smaller application in the same area.  

There have been some promising developments in the Minerals Local Plan published recommendations by Hertford County Council, which suggest that neither Bengeo Field nor Rickneys would be considered as a “preferred area for quarrying”. However, the final decision will take until late 2018, so the issue is far from over.

 

Stopping Bengeo Quarry Is Not Over Yet

The Bengeo quarry applicant has now appealed against the rejection decision made by Herts County Council’s Development Control Committee in March this year. The appeal has been logged with Planning Inspectorate and HCC will be requested to defend their decision. We hope this will be a public hearing and we, the residents, will be able to have our views and the evidence presented by our experts. It does mean though that we are into the next stage of the process and we will have to consider experts, barristers, etc.

We knew that stopping the application in March did not mean the end of the campaign. Please show your support and help us raise the awareness and funds for the experts that we will be carefully considering to represent us at the appeal. We won before and WITH YOUR SUPPORT we are well positioned to stop it again. More detailed information to follow soon.

Field Could Be Dropped From Minerals Local Plan

The Bengeo Field could be dropped as a Preferred Area for gravel extraction when the next Mineral Local Plan is adopted in 2019.

Herts County Council will meet on Thursday 7th September to discuss recommendations for areas to be included in the forthcoming draft plan for the county. The Council’s planning team have proposed four options, recommending an option that does not include Bengeo Field or Rickneys. If endorsed, this would mean that these areas are not included in MLP, and are not “preferred areas for quarrying”!

The further formal process needs to go through a number of stages: The recommendation is submitted to the Environment Cabinet Panel of elected County Councillors. If accepted, the recommendation goes then to the Cabinet. If the Cabinet decide to endorse the recommendation then it officially becomes HCC DRAFT Minerals and Waste Plan (the key formal decision point). The draft plan then goes to full council towards the end of the year after which it is the official plan for the county until 2031. It is a slow process but it would mean that the future applications have much less chance for approval.

From the HCC document (available on the HCC website):
13. Recommended Site Option
13.1. Having considered the conclusions of reports and assessments undertaken, on balance the most appropriate option to take forward to the Draft Minerals Local Plan is Option 4. Option 4 comprises Furze Field, Hatfield Aerodrome, Land Adjoining Coopers Green Lane (all three being specific sites) and Briggens Estate (as a preferred area). This option would provide:
• The necessary tonnage to meet the plan requirement
• Flexibility in regards to timing of sites coming forward
• The identification of specific sites, preferred areas and/or areas of search (in order of priority) in line with national policy.

Chapmore End Joins Campaign

Press Release from Chapmore End Association

It is with great pleasure that the residents of Chapmore End announce that they have formed an alliance with the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign.

Chapmore End is a small hamlet of around 30 houses and although we have had a lot of success fighting gravel extractions for more than 30 years, we are still fighting to protect our environment.

We know the developers intend to appeal against the HCC Committee’s decision to reject the Bengeo Field quarry proposal. In addition, they are also expected to submit a separate new application. Also imminent is a public consultation and decision from HCC regarding the Minerals Local Plan, which will identify the preferred areas for mineral extraction. And with the future of Rickney’s quarry still uncertain, we believe it is important that we make every effort to join forces with the residents of Bengeo and other local areas.

The residents of Chapmore End have been very impressed with the way Bengeo and Hertford residents have come together to fight against gravel extraction close to their school and houses, and we are confident that both communities will be able to work very successfully together in the future.

Terry Mansfield CBE and Russell Norris will represent Chapmore End at the Bengeo Steering Group committee and enjoy working with such talented people who care about the environment and the community we live within.

Minerals Local Plan Review

We understand that potential 23 areas for working quarry have been submitted to Herts County Council. The HCC will now select the cull of preferred areas for public consultation, which is now expected to take place around October. Our ambition is to have the entire Stoney Hills area (i.e. from Bengeo to A602) excluded from MLP. We believe all the arguments against the previous Bengeo quarry proposal (including landscape protection, local amenity of the area, and the risk of water supply pollution) apply against making it a preferred MLP area for extracting gravel. However, if the land goes through to the public consultation, we will respond as strongly as we have done before.

Photo of Rickney's Quarry Rickney’s Quarry in 2016

Local District Plan and HERT4 developments

The East Hertfordshire District Plan consultation has been finalised earlier this year. The Secretary of State has appointed an inspector to carry out the independent examination of the Plan. She will determine whether the Plan has been prepared in accordance with the relevant legal requirements and that it is ‘sound’ i.e. positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy.

At the same time two Statements of Common Ground relating to HERT4 have been made available on the EHDC website:

  1. between EHDC and Kler Group in respect of the Bengeo Nursery site (part of HERT4) for 50 houses.
  2. between EHDC and Gowling WLG Trust in relation to the rest of HERT4 for 100 houses.

Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan has been set up in collaboration with local Residents’ Associations (MRA, LoBRA, WERA) and Town Council representatives. It is going through the approval process and we will share further information as soon as possible.

» Statements Of Common Ground

Potential appeal against the Bengeo quarry decision

The applicant has up to six months to appeal to Inspectorate against the HCC Development Control Committee’s decision about the Bengeo quarry proposal. As far as we know no appeal has been lodged. However the Gowling WLG Trust (also the applicant for the Bengeo quarry) states explicitly in their Statement of Common Ground (section 6.6) that they intend to appeal against the quarry decision: “This application was refused by Hertfordshire County Council on the 22nd March 2017. The Applicants will be submitting an appeal against this decision to the Planning Inspectorate as well as commencing negotiations with HCC on a revised scheme to extract minerals in accordance with its designation as a Preferred Area.

It will be another busy year it seems.

Stop Bengeo Quarry: What Next?

The campaign committee met last week to discuss the likely areas of focus for the coming year.

We agreed on the following priorities:

  • to continue campaigning against quarrying in Bengeo Field, Rickneys and neighbouring areas both through engaging in Minerals Local Plan public consultation (expected in October) or any potential appeal from the applicant whose proposal was recently rejected
  • to continue campaigning for restoration of Rickneys quarry areas
  • to support engagement in responding to development plans in HERT4 (which includes Bengeo Nursery) through Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan.

As always – we are looking for people who are interested to be involved in a specific activity or overall. We are also looking for volunteers happy to help as press officers. Please get in touch also with any ideas and suggestions!