The public enquiry in to proposals for a quarry north of Bengeo resumed today following the bank holiday break.

Wednesday opened with County Councillor for Bengeo Andrew Stevenson speaking on behalf of local residents.

A Risky Operation in a Sensitive Area

He explained that as an elected County Councillor he represented the concerns and interests of about 12000 constituents and several hundred businesses in his division.

He considered the application by considering key issues:

  1. The need for this site and the new minerals plan context
  2. Housing needs in Hertford, East Herts and Hertfordshire
  3. Transport problems and the council’s Local Transport Plan
  4. Risk to water Supplies
  5. Risk to public health
  6. Impact on the Landscape
  7. Need for £2m bond to underpin any conditions

His conclusion was: “This is a risky operation in a sensitive area. There is no need for the minerals extraction and no need for the housing development the appellants have linked to it. There are no net community benefits at all from the restoration proposals. The operation poses serious and unquantified risks to Hertford’s water supply as well as a number of health risks. I have no confidence that conditions would be complied with and a £2m bond is a pre-condition for any conditions. This appeal should be dismissed. There are better places for quarries- even in Hertfordshire.”

Other Witnesses

There then followed presentations from witnesses speaking in support of the appellant, covering noise, air quality, transport and rights of way. We also heard from the County Council’s planner for Hatfield and 3 public speakers – Ben Penrose, Veronica Fraser and Cllr Margaret Eames-Petersen, who represents Hatfield North.

Further witnesses spoke on before of the appellant – Jethro Redmore of Redmore Environmental spoke about dust and air quality. He said that dust meets regulations and does not pose a risk to human health. Cllr Stevenson cross questioned him particularly on the lack of quantification in his responses. The campaign’s Dr. Adams also questioned him.

James Sutton for Ingrebourne Valley spoke about operational matters and said that the company specialised in  restoration and took a pride in following best practice and delivering more than larger companies.  There was questioning from the campaign’s barrister Katharine Elliot about water risk. He was also questioned about possible deals with Hansen which he referred to Mr. Douglas Symes.

Finally Nigel Braggins raised the issue of who the applicant actually was and the Inspector asked for clarity on this as the Secretary of State will need to know. It was pointed out that the application was in the name of RJD and this could potentially be an issue as RJD no longer exists.

Ian Dix spoke about Transport and Rights of way. On transport he asserted that the planned route was safe. On rights of way he asserted that the access road would not disturb users and only crosses one path whereas the Rickney’s Road crosses two (apparently making it worse) he did not mention how many people may be likely to cross the two different roads. Cross questioning was postponed for tomorrow.,

Tomorrow sees presentations by 10 public speakers, including Cllr Mari Stevenson & Cllr Bob Deering, along with witnesses for the appellant.