Newsletter - January 2018

11 January 2018

    Witham & Braintree Green Party
    Newsletter – January 2018
    Green Drinks
    Our first Green Drinks will be on Thursday 18th January 2018 at 7.30pm at Fowlers Farm (just off the A120 at Galley’s Corner roundabout Braintree). We will meet every 3rd Thursday of the month from now on.
    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 !
    By-election in Witham South Ward held on December 7th 
    Conservative   243   (44%)
    Labour   212   (38%) 
    GREEN Steve Hicks   56   (10%)
    Lib Dem   45   (8%)
    Thanks to our Agent Phil for his hard work, Steve for being our candidate and to all those who helped deliver our election addresses to voters.
    Waste and Recycling feature over the Christmas period
    With news that China is to limit imports of plastic waste from the West (including the UK) there was much talk over the Christmas period as to what the Government’s response would be, and the current state of waste and recycling policies. BBC Essex radio interviewed Green Party Essex County Councillor James Abbott twice about landfill running out in Essex - and then the implications from the China decision.
    It was an opportunity to focus on the failure of the Government and councils such as Essex CC to understand that “the market” cannot, and will not, on its own deal properly with waste or maximise the opportunities for waste minimisation and recycling. In Essex, recycling has stalled and the “flagship” waste plant at Basildon – laughably called an “Eco-Park”, is recycling less than 10% by weight of the waste delivered to it. Worse, the County Council is now in a legal dispute with the operators of that plant over performance issues.
    The Greens, FoE and other groups warned ECC 20 years ago not to go down the route of having only 1 or 2 large waste processing plants linked to the production of “fuel” for incineration, but to opt instead for a network of medium scale processing plants based on existing industrial areas around the county – also thereby minimising “waste miles”.
    There is now a high risk that because the UK does not have enough domestic reprocessing capacity, plastics that were being sent to China will be incinerated, which will of course be an “opportunity” lapped up by the pro-incinerator lobby. There is a real prospect of some of the progress that has been made in recycling being reversed. Household wastes that should be recycled in Essex could instead be trucked to the Rivenhall Airfield incinerator (should it be built) which would operate 24/7, destroying valuable resources, pumping about half a million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year and lowering local air quality.
    There is a further public meeting about the proposed Rivenhall Airfield incinerator on Friday 12th January at 8pm (doors open 7.30pm) at Spring Lodge Community Centre, Witham
    There is still time to object to the latest incinerator application which will be decided by Essex County Council, we think either at the end of February or March. As soon as the agenda is published there will also be a big push to get the application “called in”.
    You can object just by sending an e-mail to:
    Quote references ESS/36/17/BTE and ESS/37/17/BTE and include your name and address.
    Some pointers:
    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 stack. 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 was 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 for a 35m stack to the EA was refused. The applicants therefore had to submit a second permit 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 ft 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 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 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 (the A120) 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.
    Air Quality motion agreed at County Hall !
    The motion submitted to the ECC Full Council meeting on 12th December by the Non-Aligned Group (NAG) about improving air quality was agreed. The Conservatives tried to ‘kick it into the long grass’, but were effectively forced to give assurances that if they did refer it to Scrutiny, there would in any case be an Air Quality Policy at the end of the process. The motion called for ECC to adopt an overarching Air Quality Improvement Policy with specific mention of service commissioning, phasing out of polluting vehicles, planning policies, modal shift, electric vehicles and walking and cycling. 
    A report is published after each ECC Full Council meeting on the Essex Green Party facebook pages. It is often read by hundreds of people and includes more about debates and lots more on the ‘goings on’ at County Hall.
NEXT NEWSLETTER: February 2018
Printed and published by Local Party Contact Cllr. James Abbott
1 Waterfall Cottages Rivenhall Witham Essex CM8 3PR
Tel   01376 584576   e-mail
Local Party Agent Cllr. Phil Hughes   Tel   01376 515518   e-mail
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