Hertford & Stortford MP Mark Prisk has reiterated his support for the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign.
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.”
Members of the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign and County Councillor Andrew Stevenson met with local MP Mark Prisk on Friday 10th March, ahead of the HCC meeting which will decide whether the planning application will be approved.
Mark Prisk has been an active supporter of the campaign from the beginning and re-emphasised that he shares the campaigners’ concerns about water contamination, air pollution also the loss of landscape and amenity.
Mark and Andrew are both particularly concerned about the risk of water contamination and believe that the Environment Agency’s advice that the quarry operator should simply monitor for pollution is seriously flawed. They intend to write again to the Environment Agency to stress this point and to present the highly critical geological assessments the campaign has received.
Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign members raised the point that our local community has suffered the blight of quarrying over a very long period of time and that it seems far too easy for quarry operators to ignore their commitments, particularly in regard to restoration. We also agreed the current minerals landbank was more than sufficient to meet demand and as a consequence there is no need for another quarry.
Finally, we examined what could be done to prevent future quarrying applications being submitted in relation to this site in Bengeo, possibly by presenting a strong case when the new Minerals Local Plan is consulted on in the summer. The top priority at present, however, is to ensure that the current quarry proposal is refused.
Libby Mountford, Chair of Governors, Bengeo Primary School: “As Governors of Bengeo School we have responsibility, above all, for the wellbeing of our pupils and staff. The proposed excavation of large quantities of sand and gravel from a site so close to the school clearly puts at risk the long term health and safety of more than five hundred young children and nearly fifty staff, since they would be forced to breathe in dust produced by the excavation and travel to and from school on roads made more dangerous by the movements of many heavy lorries. We strongly oppose the application.”
Mark Prisk, MP: “I spoke at the Stop Bengeo Quarry event to make clear my support for the campaign. I have been really encouraged by the amount of local support for the cause.. [..] It’s clear this proposal would be bad for people’s health, bad for the local environment and potentially bad for our fresh water supply.”
Andrew Stevenson, County Councillor: “After careful consideration of the applicant documentation and responses so far I have concluded that gravel extraction as proposed would threaten the community in 5 ways: 1. Water supply 2. Ecology 3. Air quality 4. Highway system and 5. Landscape. Taking all these threats together he felt that there was a good case for the application to be rejected . The planned area is simply too close to urban development to be viable.”
George Sandell, Chairman of CAGE campaign: “I am very impressed with Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign and look forward to seeing the fruits of your hard work when it comes before the Development Control Committee.”
We are pleased to announce that we have now appointed Claire Cumberland as Treasurer and Alan Sewell as Deputy Treasurer. Both Claire and Alan are local Bengeo residents. Claire has previous experience as a bank manager and Alan is a qualified accountant who currently acts as Treasurer for Molewood Residents’ Association. We are all completely committed to keeping the Stop Bengeo Quarry accounts clear and transparent and Claire and Alan will ensure finances are handled appropriately.
We have agreed some basic principles on financial management, and these include the following:
No member of the campaign shall receive remuneration from the SBQ Group, with the exception of out of pocket expenses.
All funds will be lodged in the Group’s bank account. Any funds paid out will be authorised by the Treasurer or Deputy Treasurer and signed for by one other Officer of the SBQ Group.
Funds will be paid out for properly incurred expenses and also to pay for professional advice to support the activity of the Group.
The Group will keep proper accounts of the finances. An independent financial examiner will annually audit the accounts.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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.
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!