Day six of the public enquiry started with a number of strong presentations in support of the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign.
Cllr Mari Stevenson spoke about the Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan and the engagement of community in planning of their environment, as well as appreciation of the green spaces in Hertford.
Steve Halsey spoke about the research into dust PM10 and the acceptable thresholds worldwide. He also questioned the methodology of the threshold assessment in appelants’ Health Impact Assessment.
Laura Wyer made a strong case from parents’ perspective and challenged the suggestions that there is no evidence that the Bengeo Field is used. She quoted some of the users of the field who walk from Chapmore End daily, walk children to school. She also referred to the online survey where majority of respondents said the footpath would be no longer used if there was a quarry alongside.
Simon Pickering talked about the impact of the extensive process on the community and the utter logical disbelief that an urban quarry in Hertford would be considered.
Nadine Cleland made a presentation on the standard requirements of the public consultation process and the complete lack of public engagement in this application.
Russell Norris expressed his exasperation with the ongoing procedure which allows for an exploitation of loopholes and weaknesses. He listed the examples of confusion and disruptive lack of clarity faced by the campaigners. He pointed out that this appears to be a strategy to make it as difficult as legally possible for the objectors to make a case.
Heston Attwell raised a number of vital grounds of objections focusing particularly on traffic and road safety, as well as on lack of community engagement.
Amber Verity explained the impact of ongoing quarry on children’s health – both physical concerns but also their ongoing anxieties, which parents cannot dismiss. She provided data of cases of children with asthma and the use of Bengeo Field through generations
Cllr Bob Deering stressed that the quarry concerns do not just affect Bengeo residents but also residents of Hertford and neighbouring villages. He stressed particularly acute concerns over dust and proximity to the school and the town. He also made the point that the current application is completely separate from the housing development on HERT4 and should not be in any way connected.
Nigel Braggins spoke of the devastation of the Rickneys Quarry and the lack of responsibility/accountability for the restoration. He also raised the issue of the ongoing process with no clarity on who the appellant is (RJD is non-existent) and the community determination to continue objecting any quarry applications in this area.
Dr Laura Horsfall explained about the health impact on the development of children’s lungs and the respiratory issues.
Ben Cave, of Ben Cave Associates, on behalf of the appellant, answered questions from County Lawyer David Forsdick, followed by the campaign’s barrister Katharine Elliot and then Cllr Andrew Stevenson. Mr.Cave insisted that the amount of interest in particulates was so insignificant that it would make no difference to the health of either children or adults. He was unwilling to speculate on children who already had specific conditions. He was repeatedly pressed by the audience but he emphasised as strongly as he could that he believed there was no significant risk.
Ian Dix, speaking on behalf of the appellant, was cross questioned by David Forsdick on transport and public rights of way. He referred to the surveys of SBQ in his questioning and highlighted that the applicant had not done any quantitative research. He was cross questioned for some time by Councillor Stevenson and by members of the floor. Lack of community liaison by the applicant was again cited in questioning.
Tomorrow, Friday 11th May was originally scheduled to be the last day of the enquiry, but a further day has now been added. The eighth and last day of the enquiry will take place on Friday 18th May at County Hall.