District Council Formally Objects to Quarry

District Council Formally Objects to Quarry

East Herts District Council has formally objected to the second planning application for a quarry north of Bengeo.

In a letter to Hertfordshire County Council, the authority’s planning officer Susie Defoe writes: “… the proposed office buildings, bunds and associated equipment would adversely impact the openness of the Green Belt and therefore would not constitute appropriate development“.

The letter also refers to damage caused by the “invasive” proposals and the the lack of detailed restoration plans.

In concluding, the District Council’s letter states: “East Herts Council objects in principle to the development and is not satisfied that the previous reasons for refusal have been properly addressed satisfactorily“.

» Click here to read the District Council’s full response

Water-Supply Boreholes in Bengeo Field Preclude Safe Quarrying

Water-Supply Boreholes in Bengeo Field Preclude Safe Quarrying

Our consultant geologist Bryan Lovell has written to the Planning Inspectorate detailing concerns over the threat to local drinking water presented by the proposed quarry north of Bengeo.

In his letter, Dr Lovell describes the geology of the site and the risks identified not only by the applicant’s own consultants, Hafren Water, but also by a report for McMullen’s Brewery in 1992. The risks were also identified by the Lea Valley Water Company in 1990.

Fractures​ ​in​ ​the​ ​chalk​ ​aquifer​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​any​ ​pollution​ ​can​ ​reach​ ​the​ ​Wadesmill​ ​Road​ ​boreholes​ ​rapidly.  But​ ​clearing​ ​pollution​ ​from​ ​the​ ​small​ ​pores​ ​within​ ​the​ ​body​ ​of​ ​chalk​ ​rock​ ​is​ ​a​ ​lengthy​ ​and​ ​costly​ ​business.   By​ ​the​ ​time​ ​any​ ​pollution​ ​is​ ​detected,​ ​lasting​ ​damage​ ​may​ ​well​ ​have​ ​been​ ​done​ ​to​ ​Hertford’s​ ​aquifer.  Monitoring​ ​of​ ​pollution​ ​as​ ​it​ ​takes​ ​place​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​main​ ​issue:​ ​pollution​ ​must​ ​be​ ​prevented​ ​from​ ​the​ ​word  go.
Dr Bryan Lovell

The letter goes on to address the necessary steps that would need to be taken to protect the water supply and the feasibility of those steps.

In his closing comments, Dr Lovell says: “You​ ​wouldn’t​ ​drill​ ​boreholes​ ​in​ ​the​ ​chalk​ ​at​ ​the​ ​edge​ ​of​ ​a​ ​working​ ​quarry​ ​to​ ​supply​ ​a​ ​town​ ​with​ ​water.​ ​So  don’t​ ​put​ ​a​ ​quarry​ ​by​ ​these​ ​boreholes​”.

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 Spatial Planning:

  1. The new application area is within the current Minerals Local Plan “preferred area” (you may recall the previous application included phase 4, which was outside the preferred). 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. Therefore, we argue, the application is not compliant with current MLP.
  3. The new proposal suggests extracting 1.25 million tonnes rather than 1.75 million tonnes. It is proposed to last 5-8 years (originally 8-10 years). Extension can be requested once work starts.
  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). Concerns about queuing lorries 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 a local community amenity has been huge (some data 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 – on 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 Hertford and neighbouring areas 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.
  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.