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.

I write on my own behalf to object to this application. I do so, also, as one of the District Councillors for Hertford’s Bengeo Ward. My reasons are purposely focused on the straightforward fact that the application is for gravel extraction, associated plant, and restoration at a lower level.

I object because there is no demonstrated need for the supply of gravel from the area into the foreseeable future. (I am mindful of the present and historic situations near to Bengeo where, because of low demand, longterm environmental damage has resulted. I am thinking of Waterford Pit and its 100 year disfigurement and Rickneys more recently).

The area for proposed extraction in this application is of huge community benefit. The benefits are, of course visual and significantly so. They are benefits derived from recreational values and do much for the general well-being of large numbers of people. The area is perfectly sited for these benefits because it is so close to the Bengeo residential community and to the large Bengeo Primary School. The proposed extraction, however long it were to last, would inflict major environmental damaging change and introduce an unnecessary challenge to continuing mental and physical well-being, as well as contributing to direct health risk.

Aquifer pollution risk cannot be entirely dismissed. Qualified experts raise very big such concerns. Air pollution risks trouble many Bengeo residents and those responsible for the care of children as parents and professionals, are particularly alarmed by the prospect of extraction as proposed in this application. Air quality and operational noise concern them.

I object on road traffic safety grounds. The present dangers (not easily remedied) of travel on the B158 are considerable. The A602 to which quarry traffic would be directed, is also notoriously busy and dangerous. The proposed (revised) site access proposals do little to reduce the size of the increased dangers introduced by all the quarry traffic which the application would generate.

I’m sure that when your County Council planning team of officers and members re-visit the application site (despite the likely weather this winter season), they will need no encouragement to be able to read what a catastrophic and quite unnecessary long term (and in some regard permanent) change the extraction of 1.25m tonnes of sand and gravel, and the associated plant, weighbridge, wheel cleaning apparatus, offices, and new road access from the B158, will produce. It will all be introduced into a landscape of exceptional quality and value within the Rib Valley. It will be introduced into manifestly valuable Green Belt where the high views across the eastern slopes to the Rib are hugely important. This introduction would come at a time beyond the 2016 end date of Hertfordshire County Council’s Minerals and Waste Local Plan and with a developing successor plan possibly taking a fundamentally different view about preferred site locations, based on perceived future mineral need.