The County Council’s Development Control Committee have unanimously voted to refuse planning permission for the quarry north of Bengeo.
Councillors lined up to voice their concerns about the application. Cllr Andrew Williams said: “I am overwhelmingly of the view that we should reject this application”. Cllr Muir commented: “I came to this meeting this morning with an open mind, but listening to the speakers including Dr Lovell, I find I cannot support this application, for all the reasons we have heard”. Cllr Peter Ruffles also opposed the plan: “I support the local member Andrew Stevenson, the landscape structure is the number one reason for rejecting the application. I cannot support this application.”.
Campaign chair Aska Winiewska-Pickering expressed delight at the decision: “I think it is safe to say that today’s outcome exceeded our expectations. We would like to thank absolutely every single person who has joined the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign today and throughout the past year. There are so many people who supported this campaign in so many different ways. We have all worked together and across diversified groups in our community, sharing the purpose of protecting our health, our water, our landscape. And today we should celebrate that we have achieved what we wanted. We stopped this Bengeo quarry and also became a stronger community willing to give their time and energy to protect the health and environment of future generations. Thank you”
County Councillor Andrew Stevenson has long supported the campaign and spoke against the plans during the meeting. Following the decision he commented “It was unusual that the committee was so strongly against the plans.” Cllr.Stevenson was also critical of the Environment Agency for their weak response to the plans. Local MP Mark Prisk has also written to the agency and the government to voice his concerns about what is regarded as an inadequate response.
The Campaign will now focus on ensuring that the fields north of Bengeo remain Green Belt land for the enjoyment of the community.