Rickney’s and Our Water

Renewed quarrying at Rickney’s presents a significant threat to the water-supply boreholes at Wadesmill Road.

A new Minerals Local Plan is being prepared for Hertfordshire.  An area north of Hertford was designated as Preferred Area No.2 in the previous plan. It is proposed to remove this area from the new plan.  

An application to quarry sand and gravel from the southern part of Preferred Area No.2, in Bengeo Field, was rejected by Hertfordshire County Council on 22 March, 2017, on a number of grounds. An appeal has been made by the applicants, on which a decision is now awaited from the Inspector and the Secretary of State.

During the final session of the hearing of the appeal at County Hall in October 2018, the possibility emerged of a future application to quarry north of Hertford, using the access road previously used during operations at Rickneys.  It is not yet clear whether any such future application would include both operations at the Rickneys site, and operations in Bengeo Field using a northern access via Rickneys.

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Our Response to the Health Impact Assessment

We have now formally submitted our response to the applicant’s Health Impact Assessment.

Photo: Paul Crowley

In the summary we state: ” The decision-making framework used by the HIA is not scientifically or professionally recognised and therefore these conclusions on the health impact from reduced air quality (AQ) represent judgments by Ben Cave Associates (BCA) based on evidence commissioned by the appellants. The limited scope of the literature reviewed, the absence of quantifiable risk data, the omission of specific vulnerable groups, and the reliance on highly questionable AQ models for PM leads us to question the reliability of these judgements.

Our response is also critical of the desk-based methodology used in the assessment: “The absence of crucial evidence based on observations on site invalidates the conclusions of the HIA on these fundamental issues of pollution of air and groundwater.

The full response is 24 pages long and can be read by clicking the link below.

» Read Response (PDF)

Bengeo Quarry Plans Recommended For Refusal

The planning officer’s report to the County Council has recommended that planning permission for the quarry north of Bengeo be refused.

Following months of campaigning against the applicant’s second application we’re delighted the council’s planning department have recommended that the plans be rejected.

In her report to the council, planning officer Felicity Hart gives six reasons for recommending refusal – development in the green belt, effect on the landscape, health issues, negative effects on rights of way, development outside a preferred area and noise disturbance.

Chair of the Stop Bengeo Quarry Campaign, Aska Wisniewska Pickering, commented: “We are all delighted with the recommendation of the HCC Planning Officer to refuse the second revised application to turn Bengeo Field into a quarry. We hope the HCC Development Control Committee Councillors will follow this recommendation on 26 May.”

“We are calling for all the residents to also join us for the opening of the Planning Inspectorate’s public inquiry on 1st May at 10 am. It is vital that the inspector is given the opportunity to hear and see the strength of local opposition in relation to the proposed quarry on Bengeo Field. We have been campaigning for over two years and we are hoping that this will be the final time this totally unacceptable proposal is being considered”

The County Council’s Development Control Committee will meet on Thursday 26th April 2018 at 10am to make a decision on the plans. REgardless of any decision made by the council, the applicant has already lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, who will be holding a public enquiry on the plans at the beginning of May. A recommendation will then be made to the Government, with the Secretary Of State Savid Javid making the final decision.

» Read the full report here

Woodland Trust Formally Objects to Quarry

The Woodland Trust have written to the County Council to formally object to plans for gravel extraction north of Bengeo.

As the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, the Trust aims to protect native woods,
trees and their wildlife for the future.

In their letter to the council, they state: “… the Trust objects to the planning application on the basis of damage to St John’s Wood, an area of ancient woodland adjacent to the proposed extraction site. We will maintain our objection until the applicant commits to affording the ancient woodland appropriate protection from indirect impacts through the implementation of a 100m buffer. We consider that the proposals in their current form would have unacceptable impact on the ancient woodland and therefore contravene both local and national planning policy.

» Read the full letter here

Campaign Submits Formal Response

The Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign has submitted their formal response to the submission of further information in respect of extraction of Sand and Gravel north of Bengeo.

The document constitutes the response of the Stop Bengeo Quarry (SBQ) group to the letter of consultation regarding further documentation submitted by the applicant.

In summary, our submission states: “In our opinion the developer provided the new information in a very piecemeal manner and references proved difficult to follow. This also made it difficult to disseminate the information and ensure that all the correct documents were available to the public … The Cumulative Impact Assessment … is flawed and only examines the visual impact of a quarry together with houses in a very perfunctory manner … We do not believe that the Hafren Water report sufficiently covers the actual risk to groundwater.

» Read the full document here

Support from Cllr.Ken Crofton

We’re delighted that County Councillor for Hertford Rural, Ken Crofton, has voiced his support for the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign.

In backing the campaign he writes: “This further application will have many of the harmful effects as the last scheme which was roundly refused by the County Council Planning Committee. The proposed extraction of 1.23million tonnes of sand & gravel over a period of 8 years would be an unacceptable intrusion for local residents and Bengeo school. My experience indicates to include restoration of the site to its beautiful current aspect will take much longer. This Green belt land will be harmed forever and is a price not worth paying as the county has a minimum of 16 years sand and gravel supply already The traffic impact will be undeniable for the substantial lorry movements for abstraction and restoration. I believe this site in this location will have an unacceptable air quality impact for local residents. I do not believe the water pollution concerns have been adequately considered.

Landscape Officer Expresses Concerns

The County Council’s Landscape Officer has expressed concerns about access to the quarry site and the negative effects on Bengeo Field.

Whilst not opposing the planning application in principle, The Officer states: “… there is concern for the permanent negative landscape and visual effects as a result of the proposed access and haul route that lies outside the preferred area and requires further mitigation.

The report also raises concerns about restoration and a lack of detail in the planning application.

» Click here to read the Landscape Report

District Councillor Opposes Quarry

District Councillor for Bengeo Ward, Peter Ruffles, has written to the County Council detailing his objections to the proposed quarry north of Bengeo.

In his letter, Cllr Ruffles highlights the adequate supply of gravel, the benefits of the field for community use, environmental damage, highways issues and the potential withdrawal of the field from the Local Minerals Plan.

Peter Ruffles’ letter is reprinted below.

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