Update on quarry appeal
We are halfway through the quarry appeal and we thought that it would be useful to give residents an update on the proceedings.
The update is quite long but please note the particular sections in red near the end of the email.
By way of background, there are a number of parties taking part in the quarry appeal process
The Planning Inspector
Herts County Council
Affinity Water (Rule 6 status)
Environment Agency (EA) (Rule 6 status)
Ellenbrook Area and Smallford Resident Associations (Rule 6 status) with Dr Rivett as our hydrogeology expert witness
Colney Heath Parish Council (CHPC) (Rule 6 status)
Interested parties including local councillors
For the purposes of the appeal the Inspector had asked us and CHPC not to duplicate our evidence, so we split the topics between us and have focused on our areas of expertise.
EARA / SRA – hydrogeology (bromate, groundwater water management plan, public water resources, EA bromate remediation plan), flooding, quarrying timescales (32 years)
CHPC – green belt, cumulative impact on the area, air quality, dust, noise, traffic and planning policy
As Rule 6 parties we are taking a full part in the inquiry both giving evidence and asking questions on any topic. We have also reviewed dozens of documents prepared by the other parties in preparation for questioning. So to say that this has been an enormous undertaking for us is an understatement.
The quarry appeal started on Tuesday and is scheduled to last for 8 days.
Day 1 started with a request from Bretts to hear the appeal based on the new 2021 quarry application that is currently out for consultation. We objected to the 2021 application being included in the inquiry on the grounds that residents have not had a fair opportunity to challenge the new application through the normal democratic planning process. The Inspector will not rule on whether the 2021 or 2016 application is the one considered in the inquiry until he makes a decision about the overall inquiry, so the second application is still running. As we understand it the second 2021 application will not be heard at Herts County Council committee until at the earliest Feb 2022. It is unclear how this timeline overlaps with the inquiry decision.
The second session covered opening statements from all parties including Rule 6 parties. We took the opportunity to express our overall concerns about the quarry.
Day 2 was conducted in a hearing style (round table) discussion and was entirely devoted to hydrogeology. We robustly challenged the evidence from the other parties regarding the bromate. Our expert witness Dr Mike Rivett presented a strong case about the bromate plume and contested the evidence from Bretts, EA and Affinity Water.
Day3, also conducted through a round table discussion, covered traffic, air quality, dust, noise and flooding and again we robustly challenged the evidence identifying the current traffic problems that we face and our fears regarding the potential environmental issues such as air quality, dust and flooding.
Day 4 returned to the normal inquiry process with witnessed being questioned in the witness box. It covered questions for Herts County Council witness on planning policy and green belt implications.
Next week will hear evidence from Brett Aggregates for the first two days with questions from the other parties.
This will be followed by an all-day site visit on Thursday by the Inspector where he will walk around the entire site accompanied by all parties.
On Friday all parties will deliver closing statements and the inquiry will close.
We expect to hear the ruling from the Inspector in the New Year.
The Inspector has also asked if any residents would like to submit a statement to the inquiry. This can be done in person by reading out a written statement or by submitting an email to the inspector, and can cover an objection to the quarry and / or an objection to the new 2021 quarry application being included in this inquiry. If you would like to take the opportunity to do this please email firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday evening and we will pass the details to the Inspector. If you wish to make a statement to the inquiry a slot is being reserved for residents for first thing Tuesday morning, however the Inspector is flexible and another slot on Tuesday or Wednesday could be made available if is this Tuesday AM slot is not convenient.
There is a dedicated website where you can view all the documents from all parties, with a link to watch the proceedings live if you would like to.
EARA also videoed the proceedings on the first two days and captured the audio on the second two days. These will be available from a link on Ellenbrook Residents website soon.
There has also been some coverage in the local press.
I hope that this is a helpful update and we will endeavour to do the same at the end of the Inquiry.
Thank you to all those residents who have submitted their objections to the second quarry application.
Sue Meehan and Mike Hartung - EARA committee
Craig Tallents – Chair of SRA