Fundraising at The Bengeo Club

Bengeo residents flooded into The Bengeo Club on Sunday 15th April in support of the campaign to stop the Bengeo quarry. The fundraising effort raised £450 with the sale of teas/coffees, a raffle and homemade cakes.

Children painted rocks, designed posters, and penned poems to express their concern for their environment and to protect their local school. In particular – they mention the dust pollution, the water supply and the wildlife around the much loved Lonely Oak in the centre of the Bengeo Field. More than 250 people visited Bengeo Club for the event, including Cllr Andrew Stevenson, Cllr Peter Ruffles, Cllr Sue Dunkley, and Cllr Linda Radford.

Aska Pickering, the Chairperson of Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign said: “The support of the Hertford community is truly amazing. We have been campaigning for over two years now but the support to stop the quarry just on the border of Hertford grows stronger. The event provided the campaigning residents a chance to discuss the latest developments and forthcoming events, as well as enjoy delicious cakes.”

The children will further demonstrate their passion to protect Hertford from any quarry proposals on Tuesday in Bengeo Primary School where they will present their posters and create a NO in the school’s playground.

The latest quarry proposal will be considered by Herts County Council on 26 April at 10am. The Planning Inspectorate’s inquiry to the appeal against HCC’s refusal of the previous application will start on 1 May at 10am. Stop Bengeo Quarry are calling for all supporters to join them on these days in the County Hall.

Bengeo Quarry Plans Recommended For Refusal

The planning officer’s report to the County Council has recommended that planning permission for the quarry north of Bengeo be refused.

Following months of campaigning against the applicant’s second application we’re delighted the council’s planning department have recommended that the plans be rejected.

In her report to the council, planning officer Felicity Hart gives six reasons for recommending refusal – development in the green belt, effect on the landscape, health issues, negative effects on rights of way, development outside a preferred area and noise disturbance.

Chair of the Stop Bengeo Quarry Campaign, Aska Wisniewska Pickering, commented: “We are all delighted with the recommendation of the HCC Planning Officer to refuse the second revised application to turn Bengeo Field into a quarry. We hope the HCC Development Control Committee Councillors will follow this recommendation on 26 May.”

“We are calling for all the residents to also join us for the opening of the Planning Inspectorate’s public inquiry on 1st May at 10 am. It is vital that the inspector is given the opportunity to hear and see the strength of local opposition in relation to the proposed quarry on Bengeo Field. We have been campaigning for over two years and we are hoping that this will be the final time this totally unacceptable proposal is being considered”

The County Council’s Development Control Committee will meet on Thursday 26th April 2018 at 10am to make a decision on the plans. REgardless of any decision made by the council, the applicant has already lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, who will be holding a public enquiry on the plans at the beginning of May. A recommendation will then be made to the Government, with the Secretary Of State Savid Javid making the final decision.

» Read the full report here

Woodland Trust Formally Objects to Quarry

The Woodland Trust have written to the County Council to formally object to plans for gravel extraction north of Bengeo.

As the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, the Trust aims to protect native woods,
trees and their wildlife for the future.

In their letter to the council, they state: “… the Trust objects to the planning application on the basis of damage to St John’s Wood, an area of ancient woodland adjacent to the proposed extraction site. We will maintain our objection until the applicant commits to affording the ancient woodland appropriate protection from indirect impacts through the implementation of a 100m buffer. We consider that the proposals in their current form would have unacceptable impact on the ancient woodland and therefore contravene both local and national planning policy.

» Read the full letter here

Campaign Submits Formal Response

The Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign has submitted their formal response to the submission of further information in respect of extraction of Sand and Gravel north of Bengeo.

The document constitutes the response of the Stop Bengeo Quarry (SBQ) group to the letter of consultation regarding further documentation submitted by the applicant.

In summary, our submission states: “In our opinion the developer provided the new information in a very piecemeal manner and references proved difficult to follow. This also made it difficult to disseminate the information and ensure that all the correct documents were available to the public … The Cumulative Impact Assessment … is flawed and only examines the visual impact of a quarry together with houses in a very perfunctory manner … We do not believe that the Hafren Water report sufficiently covers the actual risk to groundwater.

» Read the full document here

Support from Cllr.Ken Crofton

We’re delighted that County Councillor for Hertford Rural, Ken Crofton, has voiced his support for the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign.

In backing the campaign he writes: “This further application will have many of the harmful effects as the last scheme which was roundly refused by the County Council Planning Committee. The proposed extraction of 1.23million tonnes of sand & gravel over a period of 8 years would be an unacceptable intrusion for local residents and Bengeo school. My experience indicates to include restoration of the site to its beautiful current aspect will take much longer. This Green belt land will be harmed forever and is a price not worth paying as the county has a minimum of 16 years sand and gravel supply already The traffic impact will be undeniable for the substantial lorry movements for abstraction and restoration. I believe this site in this location will have an unacceptable air quality impact for local residents. I do not believe the water pollution concerns have been adequately considered.

Latest Support from Mark Prisk MP

Local MP for Hertford & Stortford, Mark Prisk, has again written to the County Council stating his objection top the proposed quarry north of Bengeo.

In his letter to Planning Officer Felicity Hart, he writes: “I am writing to reiterate my objection to this application. Many of the underlying problems with the previous application, which the council rejected, remain with this application: the impact on air quality; traffic generation; the risks of pollution to the water supply. I understand the applicant has sought to provide additional information concerning soil contamination; a cumulative impact assessment and a Non- Technical Summary.”

He continues: “I support local residents’ views that these are inadequate and fail to satisfactorily answer concerns related to the original application. The desk-based soil contamination study fails to provide a full survey of surface chalk which would be the minimum required in these circumstances. The impact assessment is incomplete, lacking as it does any account of the impact on the landscape or Green Belt land. The NTS has several omissions or contradictions, not least over the increase in traffic.  Most significantly, the applicant has still not addressed the threat to Hertford’s water supply. Given this I wish to record my strong objection to this second application for a quarry on this site.

Calling All Artists & Poets

Calling All Artists & Poets

Together with Bengeo Primary School, we are organising a childrens’ poems and posters competition.

How does the idea of a huge quarry on Bengeo Field make you feel?

Does it make you sad? Or angry? Or both?

Do you want to stop in happening?

The DO something about it – during the Easter Holidays!

Stop Bengeo Quarry is organising a competition for the best poster or poem that celebrates how you feel about the Bengeo Field and presents your ideas about losing it.

There will be prizes for the best entries and we will use them in our campaign  to stop the quarry happening!

If you design a poster, it should be in colour and in A4 size. It should be bold and easy to photocopy. It should use words and images.

If you write a poem, remember all the lovely things we could lose (even the skylarks) and what we will get in return!. You could illustrate your poem.

Give it to your teacher, straight after the holidays. Why not walk across the field on a fine day to be inspired.

All children living in Bengeo are encouraged to bring their posters & poems to a coffee fundraising event on 15th April at The Bengeo Club; or to Bengeo School on 17th April. They can also be emailed to The deadline for all competition entries is end of 18th April.

Oliver Heald MP Supports Campaign

Member of Parliament for North East Herts, Oliver Heald, has written to the Planning Inspectorate and Hertfordshire County Council fully supporting the objections of Hertfordshire County Councillors Andrew Stephenson and Ken Crofton and District Councillor Michael McMullen to plans for a quarry north of Bengeo.

We welcome Sir Oliver’s support as he joins our own local MP Mark Prisk in objecting to the plans, along with local councillors, civic groups and residents’ associations.

Archaeology Found Across Bengeo Field

Our latest film looks at possible Roman remains identified in Bengeo Field.

Decision time come in April and May and we encourage everyone to lend their support by coming to County Hall for both the 2nd Planning Application meeting and the Appeals lodged by the applicant.

We are fighting on three fronts – the revised (or second) planning application, the appeal against refusal of the first (and potentially the second) planning application; and the Minerals Local Plan Review. The processes are becoming increasingly hard for local people to understand and engage with but we are determined to fight and protect Bengeo Field and the wider community.