Newsletter - December 2017
6 December 2017
Welcome to the new look e-newsletter for members, supporters and friends of Witham & Braintree Green Party
This is work in progress so if you have any problems reading it, please let us know by return e-mail. If there is an event or news you would like us to include, please get in touch.
W&B GP and Essex GP held their AGMs in Witham in September and Eastern Region GP also held its AGM in Witham in November.
2018 is a “year off” in Braintree District for elections (unless there are By-Elections) but we have important elections not far away where we can help get Greens elected.
Colchester Greens are gearing up once again to try to take their elusive first council seat having come close several times. Details on their campaign to get Mark Goacher elected in Castle Ward will be included in future newsletters.
By-election in Witham South Ward
This By-Election has been caused by the resignation of a Tory Town Councillor. Our candidate is Steve Hicks who has stood many times in South Ward and has previously served for a total of 8 years as a Town Councillor including being Chair of the Environment Committee. Election deliveries are underway and polling day is Thursday December 7th – if you can help with deliveries in the last few days of the campaign then please contact Phil Hughes as soon as possible, details at the foot of this newsletter.
More and more local parties hold a regular Green Drinks and we are going to start doing the same from New Year, with the first one on 18th January 2018. We will meet every 3rd Thursday of the month at Fowlers Farm (just off the A120 at Braintree). Members, supporters but also everybody who is interested to know a bit more about Witham and Braintree Greens are welcome. This is not an official Green Party Meeting but a gathering for everybody who is interested in Green Issues. If you are worried you dont know anybody we are happy to introduce you.
Contact Karin at
She can meet you before and introduce you to the group. Come and have a drink and put the world to rights with us !
Brentwood & Chelmsford Green Party film night
- Witham and Braintree GP Members welcome
Thursday 14th December 2017
7.30pm Quaker Meeting Hall, 114 Rainsford Road, Chelmsford
For this pre-Christmas meeting there is a showing of the new Al Gore film
An Inconvenient Sequel
Essex Waste incinerator – application not to be decided until early 2018
There is still time to object to the latest applications at Rivenhall Airfield for the enormous waste plant proposed by Gent Fairhead – it would be one of the largest in Europe. If built the plant would draw in vast amounts of waste - all trucked in along the roads of Essex by HGV - and most of it to be incinerated. The plant is so large that a lot of the waste would have to come from outside Essex.
There is an on-going national debate about air quality with the Government stating that it will end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, and in 2018 will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy. But that sounds like “jam tomorrow” and meanwhile poor air quality is a serious health risk in parts of the UK, with the Government having being taken to court several times:
The consistent Green Party position is simply that clean air is essential for people and planet. It is incredible that Essex County Council is supporting a waste plant at Rivenhall that will lower air quality both through the burning of waste and by generating “waste miles” by encouraging long distance HGV transport for waste that should be treated more local to where it arises.
Meanwhile, Essex County Council and the operators of the Basildon MBT plant are now in a legal tussle over the performance of the plant. The original idea was that the plant would produce a material called Solid Recovered Fuel (mashed and dried waste with a lot of plastic in it) that could be sold to produce energy – and both ECC and the developers have consistently stated that the Basildon material could go to Rivenhall if it is built. However, the Basildon MBT plant is not producing to the contract specification and far from the output material being “valuable” as ECC once claimed, they could be forced into spending large sums of taxpayers money to have it incinerated. Information recently obtained by Green councillors show that the recycling rate at the Basildon plant is woeful and that a substantial amount of Essex domestic waste is still going straight to landfill.
So the Essex Tories’ waste strategy is one big mess – recycling has stalled, costs are rising, they are stuck in a legal dispute and air quality will be damaged if an incinerator is built in the county. Despite their various claims over the years, Tory controlled ECC has consistently backed a waste incinerator being built at Rivenhall and even used public money at the 2009 Inquiry to pay for a barrister to support the plans and to try to undermine the evidence of local communities.
Or you can just send an e-mail to:
Quote references ESS/36/17/BTE and ESS/37/17/BTE and include your name and address.
1. When the original planning consent for the Rivenhall waste site was granted in March 2010, the then Secretary of State agreed with the Planning Inspector’s report (from the 2009 Inquiry) that the stack height should be conditioned to a height of 35m above local ground level. Now the developers want a 58m high stack.
Condition 14 of the current consent states that all details of the stack, including elevations, should be submitted to the planning authority, and agreed, before commencement. The applicant agreed to this in 2009 at the Inquiry and did submit final details of the stack to ECC prior to commencement under condition 14, which was for a 35m tall structure. The applicants told the Inspector in 2009 that a 35m stack was the correct requirement for the plant and the Inspector covered in detail the landscape impacts of such a structure given the rural location.
Legal commencement of the development was confirmed by ECC as having taken place in early 2016, very soon after ECC granted the so–called “variation” s73 application which significantly shifted the plant operations away from recycling and towards waste incineration. At the time, Essex County Council stated that should the developer proceed to start the development prior to obtaining the necessary operating Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency (EA), they would be doing so at their own risk.
The developer did proceed and that risk has now been realised. Having made a legal start, the stack details should not be changed. As ECC is aware, the only reason why the applicants now seek a 58m high stack is that their first Permit application to the EA was refused. The applicants therefore had to submit a second application, which was approved in September 2017, but that decision does not over-ride the planning conditions applying to the site.
2. The landscape impacts of the proposed 58m stack (which is the height above local ground level) have been seriously underestimated by the applicants and in places comparisons made with existing features in the local landscape are incorrect.
The applicant states that the 58m high stack might be “theoretically visible” from listed buildings and “theoretically visible within the local landscape”; that there are electricity pylons in the local area near the plant site of comparable height; and that the residual trees left from their destruction of most of the TPO woodland around the plant are 18m tall (and therefore 40m of the stack would be visible above the trees).
58m equates to approximately 190 feet, or for comparison, 20 feet taller than Nelson’s Column. This would be an industrial structure widely visible across the countryside. It would be 7m wide and with a highly reflective “mirrored” metal finish.
The applicants claim that the mirrored finish will make the stack blend more into the ‘sky scape’. But sky conditions can vary enormously and presumably the stack will reflect whatever the conditions are. It is unknown as to the extent that the stack will reflect the Sun, increasing its visibility as seen from distance, or artificial light at night from the plant.
The residual trees around the plant site are not typically 18m tall as claimed by the applicants. The very highest of the surrounding trees may be that tall, but most are significantly lower than that, as has been measured locally. As was advised to ECC prior to the destruction of much of the TPO woodland on the site in late February 2016, the residual tree belt is thin and the plant will be plainly visible through it for the half of the year when the leaves are down. Therefore both the plant and the stack will be much more visible both through the trees and above them than the applicant states.
Contrary to the impression given by the applicants, there are no similar solid structures in the local landscape. The nearest tall structure is the communications tower at Sheepcotes Farm Silver End, but this is an open lattice structure and is 47m tall. The proposed stack is 58m tall, a full 11m taller. The electricity pylons quoted by the applicants are actually well to the north of the site.
The photo-visualisations used by the applicants are not a fair representation of what is seen on the ground. The visualisations tend to minimise objects at distance in the landscape.
3. Other matters remain uncertain including the financial viability of the project, cumulative visual impact with proposed new roads and extensions of the nearby quarry, the use of local roads as alternative access and the use of the River Blackwater. In addition, ECC should not be granting consent for an industrial plant in open countryside nor for a plant that will lower local air quality both from its emissions and by generating hundreds of HGV trips per day on to the roads of Essex.
Conclusion: The application should be refused. Failing that, due to the on-going planning creep associated with this site, there should be a fresh public Planning Inquiry.
A12 widening and A120 route consultations
Having pledged to confirm details on both the A12 and A120 this autumn, to no surprise at all, announcements have been recently made that final decisions are to be delayed.
The uncertainty gives further opportunities for speculators who continue to submit plans for large developments on unallocated greenfield land in Braintree District. Two new big ones are at Cressing and Silver End.
The press is reporting that the A12 work could be put back for up to 2 years. The announcement when it comes will be from Highways England and will be to confirm the route of a new A12 through mid-Essex, likely to be at least in part through open countryside.
The A120 announcement was due from Essex County Council as a “preferred route” (or routes) from the 5 options that went to public consultation. But ECC has just announced that instead, the Deputy Leader of the Council will be given delegated powers to make the decision himself from 4 remaining routes (B,C,D,E) at a later date and following further consideration. Such a major decision should not be left to one councillor and Green councillors have written to ECC to ask for a more democratic approach.
Meanwhile, investment in walking and cycling remains low and rural bus services continue to decline under the Conservatives. A motion has been submitted to the ECC Full Council meeting on 12th December by the Non-Aligned Group (NAG) about improving air quality and it includes clauses about the need to invest in safe walking and cycling. Green County Councillor James Abbott sits in this group as otherwise as a lone councillor at ECC he would have no ability to propose motions and no direct officer support. By agreement, it does not change the issues he can raise and he will be proposing the motion which he has contributed to the writing of.
It’s not easy beating Greens! Tories lose their third seat to Lucas’ party in as many months
There has been a good run of By-Election gains for Green candidates in recent months and this continues the trend of Greens taking council seats from the Conservatives:
NEXT NEWSLETTER: January 2018
Printed and published by Local Party Contact Cllr. James Abbott
1 Waterfall Cottages Rivenhall Witham Essex CM8 3PR
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