The following address was made to Hertfordshire County Council’s Development Control committee on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 by Hertfordshire County Councillor, Andrew Stevenson.
Previous speakers, (Aska Pickering, Mark Lynch, John Howson, Bryan Lovell, David Adam and Libby Mountford )have demonstrated the huge strength of local feeling about this application from residents, parents and the school itself. I will briefly summarise the main threats.
An ancient byway across this landscape has been a walking and riding route for generations of residents of Bengeo. This is not a neglected piece of history but a living part of the community. The landscape is of outstanding beauty. We know from nearby Waterford Heath that it takes many decades for a landscape to begin to recover. Any significant quarrying in this location will permanently destroy this special landscape.
I recognise that drinking water is not formally part of the material considerations today and there are other grounds for refusal. However the main borehole supplying Hertford’s 6m l/day of drinking water is at significant risk of contamination from quarry operations in this area. It is a pity that the environment agency is not here today. Although their response recognises the sensitivity and lists monitoring conditions it neither recommends rejection nor quantifies the risks. I think this approach is flawed. Why have the risks to drinking water of fuel contamination, turbidity, aquifer damage etc not been quantified? What is the risk? We do not know. Both Mark Prisk MP and I have written to the EA expressing concern about the lack of quantitative risk assessment.
Hertfordshire Director of Public Health has said that the applicant has failed to demonstrate that there would not be harm to human health – especially fine particulate matter –the most damaging to health. Here we have a primary school with vulnerable young children – some with asthma conditions. The risk to air quality is unacceptable
The B158 is not a quiet underused country lane, it is a busy urban artery connecting the North East of the County to the South West on which there has recently been a fatality. Traffic modelling suggests the need for a Hertford bypass . The impact of an extra 100 HGV’s a day in morning periods could be severe. Without major investment in upgrading the B158 and A602 it is hard to see how highway concerns can be addressed.
Bengeo has suffered 35years of gravel extraction with developers failing to meet conditions imposed. This site is simply too near to an urban area for this approach. A pre-requisite should be the deposit of a substantial sum of money in escrow with the County Council to cover monitoring and enforcement costs.
HOWEVER THIS APPLICATION HAS SO MANY PROBLEMS I SEE NO VIABLE SET OF CONDITIONS ABLE TO MAKE IT ACCEPTABLE, I STRONGLY OPPOSE IT AND I INVITE THE COMMITTEE TO FOLLOW THE OFFICERS RECOMMENDATIONS AND REFUSE IT.