Public Enquiry Re-opens Next Week

The Public Enquiry in to the County Council’s refiusal of planning permission for a quarry in Bengeo re-open next Tuesday (23rd October) at County Hall for three days.

Come and join us any time you can please, wearing red if you want to.

The schedule for remaining days of the enquiry are:

Tuesday 23rd October: Health witnesses and evidence in chief from Mr Symes representing the appellants
Wednesday 24th October: Mr Symes’ evidence cross examination and conditions for Section 106
Thursday 25th October: Closing submissions

You can come any time during the day. We need the Inspector and the appellant know that the residents of Hertford will not stop campaigning to Stop Bengeo Quarry.

Runners Raise Funds

Runners, walkers and spectators braved the early morning chill and heavy rain on Sunday to take part in the Bengeo Field Fun Run. The event was organised by Stop Bengeo Quarry (SBQ) campaigners to demonstrate the community’s unwavering determination and support for Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) decision to refuse planning permission for an urban quarry within Hertford Town Council’s boundary.

The Public Inquiry, to consider the appeal by the applicant, against HCC Development Control Committee’s unanimous decision on 22nd March 2017, to refuse planning permission for a quarry at Bengeo, was adjourned earlier this year in controversial circumstances. The Planning Inspector adjourned the Public Inquiry on 18th May to enable campaigners time to obtain expert health advice. During the already extended Inquiry in May, members of the public questioned the applicant’s health expert about their claim that the proposed quarry would have no health impact on children attending Bengeo Primary School, or on vulnerable members of the public living in nearby homes, or on the safety of motorists using the busy Wadesmill Road.

As reported by The Mercury at the time, the Planning Inspector ruled on 18th May, that the late submission by the applicant of their 95 page Health Impact Assessment had materially prejudiced Stop Bengeo Quarry’s case. Since then, campaigners have raised £10,000 through a series of appeals and initiatives like this Fun Run, to help fund the next stage of their legal battle against the applicants, in support of the council’s previous decisions to refuse two successive applications (22nd March 2017 and 26th April 2018).

The Public Inquiry is due to reconvene at County Hall 23rd-25th October. SBQ campaigners are appealing for a high turnout of people living and working in and around Hertford, who are increasingly concerned about the risks and potential health impacts of Bengeo Quarry. When the Public Inquiry concludes, the Planning Inspector will write a report and make a recommendation based on his findings to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire. The Secretary of State will then make the final decision, either to uphold Hertfordshire County Council’s refusal, or to over-rule the Council’s two previous decisions and allow the quarry to go ahead.

Aska Wisniewska-Pickering, said on behalf of Stop Bengeo Quarry “We have won every key stage of this marathon battle on behalf of the whole community, to preserve Hertford’s open, rolling countryside and protect the health and wellbeing of children and other vulnerable residents from a gravel pit in close proximity to a Primary School, play area and people’s homes. A quarry in this location poses numerous unacceptable risks including; up to one hundred additional lorry movements during busy times of the day onto a hazardous section of the B158; detrimental impact on air quality, and a serious risk to Hertford’s water source. Many of Hertford’s residents are still unaware that 6 million litres of their fresh drinking water are pumped every day from the chalk aquifer underlying Bengeo Field, via two nearby boreholes. The quarry would also disrupt use of a footpath and bridleway that has been in public use for hundreds of years. This Public Right of Way provides the only safe pedestrian, cycle and equestrian access from Hertford to Chapmore End and the rural communities to the north of town.”

Fun Run Set For September

Our fundraising Fun Run has now been rescheduled for Sunday 23rd September at 10am.

As before, adults and children can run one of three courses – a 1 kilometre run from the mobile mast to the Lonely Oak and back, a 2 kilometre run to the edge of St.John’s Wood and back, or a 4 kilometre run from the mast through St.John’s Wood, around Rickneys and then back again.

Entry is £5 for adults with a child free, or £1 for a child.

To apply to take part go to the Fun Run Registration Form.

Registration Form

Fundraising at The Bengeo Club

Bengeo residents flooded into The Bengeo Club on Sunday 15th April in support of the campaign to stop the Bengeo quarry. The fundraising effort raised £450 with the sale of teas/coffees, a raffle and homemade cakes.

Children painted rocks, designed posters, and penned poems to express their concern for their environment and to protect their local school. In particular – they mention the dust pollution, the water supply and the wildlife around the much loved Lonely Oak in the centre of the Bengeo Field. More than 250 people visited Bengeo Club for the event, including Cllr Andrew Stevenson, Cllr Peter Ruffles, Cllr Sue Dunkley, and Cllr Linda Radford.

Aska Pickering, the Chairperson of Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign said: “The support of the Hertford community is truly amazing. We have been campaigning for over two years now but the support to stop the quarry just on the border of Hertford grows stronger. The event provided the campaigning residents a chance to discuss the latest developments and forthcoming events, as well as enjoy delicious cakes.”

The children will further demonstrate their passion to protect Hertford from any quarry proposals on Tuesday in Bengeo Primary School where they will present their posters and create a NO in the school’s playground.

The latest quarry proposal will be considered by Herts County Council on 26 April at 10am. The Planning Inspectorate’s inquiry to the appeal against HCC’s refusal of the previous application will start on 1 May at 10am. Stop Bengeo Quarry are calling for all supporters to join them on these days in the County Hall.

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.

 

Summer Walk To The Woodman

Join us at the Old Oak Tree on the footpath at Bengeo Field alongside Wadesmill Road (B158) and Sacombe Road at 11 am. We will walk together to the Woodman Pub in Chapmore End arriving by midday. If walking is not your thing – meet us at the Woodman pub. There will be live music and BBQ at the Woodman between 12 – 4pm. There will be also some fun activities for children and adults along the walk and in the pub. Wear RED for Stop Bengeo Quarry Campaign and GREEN for our countryside (there will be a reward for best outfits).

Live music in the Woodman

Simon Cragg
Garden Room
Beth Hedges
Chloe Turner
Baron Goodlove
The Greyhound Factory

Donations are welcome from walkers but are in no way compulsory. There will be Barbeque.

After the successful rejection of the previous proposal of the Bengeo quarry by County Development Control Committee, the Stop Bengeo Quarry is now preparing to the imminent appeal against this decision, as well as any other new quarry applications, and the expected consultation for Minerals Local Plan (and selection of “preferred arrears” for quarrying). Thanks to outstanding support from the local community we managed to achieve a lot. To give us the best chance of stopping the quarry in Bengeo Field and Rickneys’ for good, we need to raise funds for consultants and legal advice.

Let’s have a field day….

Neighbourhood Plan Community Meeting

Hertford Town Council, the Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan Steering Group and local Residents’ Associations would like to invite the community of Bengeo to participate in creating a neighbourhood area plan for Bengeo.

Attend this first community meeting to find out how Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan can influence where you live and work, and to have your say on: • future residential development • countryside and open spaces • roads, cycleways, and parking • shops, community centres, health provision • heritage and culture • anything else you think is important.

This is an important, long-term community project that will shape the future of Bengeo and local knowledge and expertise provided by the local community will be critical to its success.
Residents, businesses and local organisations – please come along to the meeting to share your views and find out how you can get involved!

Final Rally Says ‘No’

More than 150 people turned out on Sunday 12th March for the final rally of support for the campaign to stop plans for a gravel extraction quarry in Bengeo getting the green light.

Residents from Bengeo and further afield, including many families with children at nearby Bengeo school, gathered at the Wick park and walked to the field at the heart of the proposals.

On Friday, the group were delighted to hear that planning officers at Hertfordshire County Council were recommending that the proposals were turned down.

Key to their concerns are air pollution caused by the dust produced during the extraction process and road congestion caused by the HGVs travelling to and from the plant each day.

Aska Pickering, who chairs the campaign committee group, said: “After almost a year of campaigning and gathering support, we were delighted to hear of the planning officers’ recommendations. However, the decision will be made by the Development Control Committee on 22nd March, so we wanted to give the campaign one last push and demonstrate how much the community cares about saving the Bengeo Field from becoming a quarry.

We are very concerned  about the risk of water contamination, the risk of harming health of the children at Bengeo Primary and all local residents who would be exposed to dangerous dust particles. We are worried about the implications to the traffic and road safety. And finally we want to protect this iconic Hertford landscape and Bengeo’s much loved amenity.”

Over 3,000 people have shown their support for the campaign, with nearly 2,000 people signing the latest petition and a further 1,331 writing objection letters.

The campaign group is urging local residents to demonstrate their support on 22nd March at County Hall, Pegs Lane from 9am, with the Committee meeting starting at 10am.

Protesters being filmed from the air

Continue reading →

Aerial Photo Opportunity

We would like to invite you to join us at the Wick Field/Sacombe Road playing field on Sunday 12 March 2017.

This is our last chance to show our opposition to the quarry application in Bengeo Field.

We are hoping that you can come and join us briefly to raise some further publicity before the HCC Committee meeting. The plan is:

  • 11-11.15am aerial photo in the Wick Field – we will stand in the shape of letter NO, other photos will be taken on ground
  • 11.15-11.45 walk to the Lonely Oak tree to put a stone in the circle around the tree.

Please wear red for stop and green for tree/field if you can. See you there! Please share.

Campaign Stall Attracts Hundreds

Hundreds of people visited our stall at Hertford Market on Saturday 18th February. Local residents and shoppers stopped and shared their concerns with fellow campaigners and councillors who were there throughout the day.  Visitors to the stall expressed concern about how close the quarry would be to a school and residential areas. One man said he had only just moved to Hertford, and if he had known about the plans he certainly would not have come to the area. Local people were also unaware that their water supply comes from the Wadesmill Road boreholes.

Local Councillors lending their support on the day included Cllr Andrew Stevenson (Hertfordshire County Council), Cllr Michael McMullen (East Herts District Council), Cllr Sally Newton (Hertford Town Council) and the Mayor of Hertford, Cllr Linda Radford.

Photos