We’ve just released a campaign video!
County Councillor Andrew Stevenson met last Friday with representatives from Stop Bengeo Quarry, Bengeo Primary School and Molewood and Chapmore End Residents’ Associations: Nick Gough (Chairman of MRA), Libby Mountford (Head of Governors), Russell Norris (CEA), David Adam (Parent Governor), Mark Lynch, Katharine Elliot, and Aska Pickering.
Andrew updated us on the current status of the quarrying application and helped us understand the details of how the process works. At the last count, around 600 letters had been received and the planning officer, Felicity Hart, is now in the process of collating the points raised and deciding if further investigation is required. When all the investigations are complete, the planning officer will make a refuse/allow recommendation to the Development Control Committee, who will then make the final decision at a public meeting at County Hall. As yet, we don’t know the time of the DCC meeting – September or October seem likely, but there could be delays. Obviously we’ll will pass that information on as soon as it is available.
On the “further investigation” front, Andrew was able to tell us that:
- Public Health England are being consulted about potential risks from dust
- HCC will be arranging their own landscape assessment
- the Environment Agency are being consulted about risks to the Wadesmill Road borehole.
The Campaign To Protect Rural England have asked the County Council to refuse planning permission for gravel extraction in the field immediately north of Bengeo.
In a letter written to the council, CPRE Hertfordshire question the rationale behind the plan and it’s compatibility with the current Local Minerals Plan 2002-16.
They also express concerns about potential water pollution, with Phase 4 of the proposed quarry being just 100 metres from the Wadesmill Road borehole, rather than the minimum 300m as proposed by the HCC minerals policy.
The Woodland Trust have submitted a formal objection to the planning application for gravel extraction in Bengeo.
Citing government guidance that states: planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, the Trust raises a number of objections to the quarry based on its location close to St.John’s Wood, including dust and noise.
In a four-page submission to the County Council, the Trust expresses concern about the affect of dust on the woodland’s spoil chemistry and inadequate buffering around St.John’s Wood.
They also express concerns about noise and light pollution and changes to the hydrology, thereby altering ground water and surface water quantities.
In their conclusion, they state: the Woodland Trust objects to this application because it is felt the buffer to protect St Johns Ancient Woodland and the protected species within it are currently insufficient.
Join us at the Old Oak Tree at Bengeo Field, on the footpath on the site of the proposed quarry, just off Wadesmill Road (B158) at 11am on Sunday 15th May. Or meet us at the Woodman Pub in Chapmore End at midday.
This is an opportunity for members of the community on all sides of the proposed site to walk to the Woodman Pub in Chapmore End arriving at midday.
Donations are invited from walkers, but are in no way compulsory. There will be live music at the Woodman and a BBQ with all profits going to the campaign. Entertainment will be from 12-3pm.
Wear Red for the campaign and Green for our Countryside.
Live music will be provided by Mike Excell, who will be singing his self-penned campaign song, along with support from Bengeo’s own Schrodinger’s Strings, Daisy Mae Lewis and a semi-acoustic set from Piping Shrikes, with other acts to be confirmed.
Councillor Paul Phillips, who represents Bengeo on East Herts District Council, has submitted his letter of objection to the County Council.
His comments highlight the impact of pollution, traffic, and the health and wellbeing of his constituents.
He also comments on the merits of the plan overall:
“… this application does strike me as opportunist when you consider the Consultation of the new Mineral Local Plan and I wonder if the application had been made 5 or 10 years ago whether the impact would have been as great.”
His full letter appears below.
Dear Ms Hart,
I am writing to express my profound objection to the application above.
I am a local Councillor for East Herts Council and have been presented with over 240 letters and emails of concern, many of which I am sure you will have also now seen.
As a Councillor, I am well aware of the needs of the larger communities, within Hertford, Hertfordshire and the Country as a whole. I also appreciate that as a County we have mineral deposits that we have an obligation to make available so that they Country can prosper, however with this application I do believe the risks greatly outway the benefits.
Having read through many of the Application documents on the County Council website, I find a number of things stand out.
Local singer/songwriter Mike Excell has written a song in support of the campaign titled No To The Quarry. Mike is a regular performer around the county at acoustic events and local festivals.
Mike commented: “After living in Bengeo for 40 years I still love to walk across these fields. It was a great place to bring up our sons, who went to Bengeo School. That, and the woods and open countryside just around the corner were the main reasons we moved here – what we’ve got is precious and we should fight to preserve it.”
Our campaign is quickly gathering momentum and we are keen to grow where we can.
In order to ensure that we can put the best possible case forward to planning decision makers we urgently need people who can fill the following roles:
- Those who can provide administrative support to the working groups and help to collate and format reports using Microsoft Word and Excel
- Those who are willing and able to be part of a small fundraising committee to raise funds to pay for consultancy, including legal advice, and communications materials. There will be a number of roles needed on the committee, including those who can lead on working with local businesses and those who can take the lead on organising specific fundraising events over the next few months.
- A treasurer and vice-treasurer who will ensure the campaign remains solvent, can set up and manage the bank account and provide regular reports on our financial position to enable the campaign to progress.
Please do let us know if you would like to come forward for these roles. We will be posting shortly with other opportunities for getting involved in the campaign!
BOB FM news recently included an update about Stop Bengeo Quarry Campaign. Joanne Lewis was interviewed and did an excellent job – urging all to send their personal letters to HCC with factual objections by 2nd May.
Also Libby Mountford, Head of Governors in Bengeo Primary School, was interviewed between 7.30-7.45am by BBC 3 Counties Radio, speaking on behalf of the school.
It was standing room only at Bengeo School when local residents attended a public meeting to find out more about the application for gravel extraction and our campaign against it.
Hertford residents once again showed overwhelming support for the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign mounted earlier this month against proposals for a quarry just 320 metres from the local primary school and only 30 metres from some houses.
Libby Mountford, the Chair of Governors at Bengeo Primary School reiterated how important it was for residents and parents with children to object, and confirmed that the school is objecting to the proposal on the grounds of health issues and road safety. She urged everyone to write their letters of objection
County Councillor Andrew Stevenson once again showed his support for the campaign by addressing residents and answering questions.
He said that the application and accompanying expert reports raised a large number of questions and he would be asking the various departments at the County Council to respond to these questions. The questions include public health, pollution of groundwater, highways impact ,environmental impact and the sheer proximity to the well established urban area of Hertfordshire County Council.
Where appropriate he would expect them to seek external expertise from organisations not connected in any way to the applicant.
Residents also heard from members of the campaign committee about specific points of objection, which include:
– Dust levels and the effect that silica particles generated by extracting gravel have on health.
– Traffic and road safety issues caused by 100 lorries entering and leaving the site six days a week.
– The impact that a quarry will have on the local environment and landscape.
– Water levels on the proposed site behind BengeoNurseries and the likelihood of flooding if the quarry gets the go ahead.
Further information on these areas is available on this website.
East Herts District Councillors Paul Phillips and Michael McMullen also expressed their support for the Stop BengeoQuarry campaign. However, members of the audience also expressed their disappointment that East Herts District Council had not opposed the quarry proposal, and compared this unfavourably with the Council’s strong opposition to previous gravel extraction schemes.