Newsletter - March 2018

19 March 2018

Green Drinks

The next Green Drinks will be on Thursday 19th of April at 7.30pm at Fowlers Farm (just off the A120 at Galley's Corner roundabout Braintree).
We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month.

Contact Karin for more information at

karin@evansaboveus

Planning

The latest dates for major announcements on the routes of the A12 and A120 are:

The A12 "spring 2018" – construction to start Autumn 2020
A120 "June 2018" – construction to start 2023

Green Councillor James Abbott has been asking at meetings if any of the vast sums of public money earmarked for the roads will be used to improve other modes of travel in the route corridor. The answer is consistently no.
So no money to improve the Braintree branch line and no money to provide safe off-road cycling and walking links. He has proposed 2 such links: between Braintree and Witham with shorter links to the villages and between Braintree and Marks Tey.
The Government has said that the total cost of the A12 and A120 will be between about £1 billion and £1.5 billion (at todays prices). So it could be £2 billion by the mid 2020s.

Meanwhile sites continue to be given planning permission for development that are not in the Braintree District Draft Local Plan.

A greenfield site near Tye Green Cressing was given consent for 225 houses by BDC on 27th February. This brings the total on unallocated (not in the Local Plan) greenfield sites in that rural parish to 343 with another developer seeking consent on a third unallocated site for 250.

The one site that is in the Local Plan for Cressing parish is largely brownfield – more suitable – and developers are looking to build 90 there.

Along the frontages of 2 sites (Silver End and Cressing), significant sections of long-established hedgerow have been ripped out recently.

The Local Plan had identified sites for about 600 houses across the Silver End and Cressing district ward – so the area was set to "do its bit" to provide new housing, which is clearly needed. However, the Government's changes to planning have put developers firmly in control. Local communities such as Cressing have engaged in the Plan process by working on their own Neighbourhood Plan, but have seen it heavily undermined even before it is completed.

As things stand, the number granted consent or in the pipeline is approaching 2000 in the ward and most of the developments are simply housing estates on greenfields with little or no on-site facilities or services. In particular there is a need for a new GP practice in the area.

A major application has come in to develop Witham railway station which has implications for traffic, parking and access in the area.

Waste site application update – possible decision in April ?

At the time of writing, we still do not know when the planning applications for the Rivenhall Airfield waste site will be decided by Essex County Council. The earliest date now is late April.

As soon as the agenda is published there will be a big push to get the application "called in" for a fresh public planning inquiry.

A mass lobby of County Hall will be organised when we know the date for the planning committee meeting.

Campaign group PAIN has more information on their website at:

http://www.no2incinerator.co.uk/

You can still object – many thousands already have - the more objections, the better the chances of getting a fresh planning inquiry

just send an e-mail to: mineralsandwastedm@essex.gov.uk
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.

 

 

NEXT NEWSLETTER: April 2018

 
Printed and published by Local Party Contact Cllr. James Abbott
 
1 Waterfall Cottages Rivenhall Witham Essex CM8 3PR
 
Tel   01376 584576   e-mail   james.abbott@greenparty.org.uk
 
 
Local Party Agent Cllr. Phil Hughes   Tel   01376 515518   e-mail   cllrphughes@care4free.net
 
 
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