Laleham Residents Association
Registered Charity No: 262220
 
 
  MANOR FARM GRAVEL EXTRACTION - WE LOSE!

A letter from CLAG2 the Campaign for Laleham Against Gravel

Dear Supporter,

The Manor Farm application was finally heard on Wednesday, 7th January by the Surrey Planning Committee.

Unfortunately the decision went against us by 7 (which included the chairman) votes to 5.

We had 4 residents and 3 County Councillors who were all able to speak on our behalf, to whom we give special thanks. All our speakers got their points across very eloquently, so much so that one of the counsellors commented that he had been persuaded to change his vote from in favour to against.

The only thing we can do now is monitor the work when it starts and notify Surrey & our councillors of any deviations or concerns. Thank you for your support over the last 5 years.

CLAG2 Admin

Comment

CLAG2 - the Campaign for Laleham Against Gravel have been fronting local opinion about pending gravel extraction at the Manor Farm site, (roughly between the Ashford Road and Pavilion Gardens)for 5 long years.

After many seemingly unreasonable delays, objections were finally heard by Surrey County Council Planning and Regulatory committee on 7th January 2015.

Not surprisingly, the decision of 7 out of 12 councillors - none of whom live anywhere near Laleham - was to dismiss local opposition and approve the application for extraction to go ahead.

The CLAG2 committee have put in some serious hard work mustering local objections and framing the opposition. The process was lengthy and complicated and weighted heavily against local residents. If the application had been turned down for example, Brett Aggregates Ltd, (the developers), had a right of appeal. However having been voted down and dismissed by 7 out of 5, remote Surrey Councillors, the residents have no such right.

There are a number of devastating blows that come with the approval of this application, not just the noise and the dirt of the work itself. I would like to highlight just three...

There is no reasonable end date proposed to the work. There is some vague mention of 2033, but even this is meaningless as Brett Aggregates Ltd have a history of overrunning on previous applications and are basically allowed to turn production off and on to match demand. I expect all of the councillors who voted for this will be dead before the site closes - and with “restoration” approved in the form of a massive, utterly useless lake, this scar in our village is basically permanent.

The restoration proposed an accepted by 7 out of 12 councillors is not restoration at all. Filling the pits with water is not restoration. Conservation is a word bandied around so much that it has obviously lost its meaning. All flora and fauna currently on the land at Manor Farm will be killed by the gravel works. Introducing Geese and Fish at the end is not conservation as they were never on that site in the first place.

(Of course there is a reason for these lakes other that being the cheap and lazy way to “finish” the job. In years to come when gravel is exhausted and land for housing becomes the new tail feather to pull on Surrey Councils behind, Brett Aggregates will no doubt charge us a fortune to back fill them for development. Why return good land now when you can charge for it at a later date?)

The process by which this sort of decision is made is questionable. The councillors who made the ultimate decision are amateurs from outside the area who may or may not have any idea of the implications of the development. They are told by central government that gravel is expected and many just tow the party line regardless of the finer details.

To read the full agenda of the Jan 7th Meeting cut and paste this link

http://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=3587&Ver=4

Chose "Agenda Reports Pack". Manor Farm is section7

If the link expires, please let me know and can send you a copy.

Contact the LRA or See web site
     
 
A letter from Cllr Ian Beardsmore (Lib Dem - Sunbury Common & Ashford Common) re MANOR FARM GRAVEL EXTRACTION

Dear All

I have had many representations re the proposed application at manor Farm and I have now had time to go through them all as well as the 200 odd pages of the agenda. You will have to forgive me but with more than 80 replies to make I cannot deal with each e-mail individually.

What I have tried to do in the reply below is cover the main points and tried to explain few things.

The basic nature of the e-mails are split into two main issues

FIRSTLY: Should mineral be extracted from the site at all

SECONDLY: Should the site be returned to agricultural land if mineral is extracted.

Before this I would like to touch on a series of related issues and try and explain some things, so in no particular order

1) SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE

Mineral extraction IS permitted special circumstance in Green Belt. As such this alone cannot be reason to reject an application

2) CONVEYOR UNDER THE ROAD

This is quite common. There is already one in Splethorne, there have been others and there are several in other parts of the county. Having seen one- in all honesty in less you actually knew, you would not realise it was there

3) PROPERTY VALUES/VIEWS

These are not allowed to be reasons for refusal under the law- so they cannot be taken into account

4) USE MARINE GRAVELS

They are used extensively especially where they are available, but in some places the gravel deposits are very important to fish stocks. There have already been serious problems where the extraction of marine aggregate has caused extensive damage to fish stocks.

5) NO EXTRA LORRY MOVEMENTS

There was an extension to the operating of this site until 2033. Therefore between now and then ‘n’ number of lorries are legally entitled to enter and leave the site each week. Whether those lories are moving in and out of the site carrying material raised on the site does not matter. In fact it will be claimed that there are less lorry movement because nothing will be bought it, only taken out. Of course being cynical was the extension just to accommodate this development, and by implication there is gravel readily available elsewhere. Which in other places we are led to believe there is not! Unfortunately cynicism is not a reason on which can reject an application either

6) PROXIMITY OF SCHOOLS/URBAN AREA ETC

Initially this looks a strong case. But the problem is establishing an evidence base that would stand up to legal challenge. The developer will operate within all imposed legal guidelines and where things like health and safety are covered by other bodies we are NOT allowed to make those decisions ourselves. To make something like this stick there would need to be a very strong evidence base. Where would we get it, not from Spelthorne- Remember it is Spelthornes’s official position that there are NO infrastructure constraints in the Borough. (I was one of the few people to vote against that piece of nonsense I hasten to add). The whole area is an AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) but as I have said there are no increases in lorry movements beyond those already permitted.

I am sorry some of the above is not what you want to hear but I can only operate under the rules that are in place (whether I like them or not.)

SHOULD THE SITE BE DUG AT ALL?

In the end you can only dig mineral where it is found. There will be a demand. Every year there is a mismatch between what is demanded and what is consumed, BUT we are meant to maintain a 7-year land bank of aggregate and we are down to a 2 year landbank. Again those are the cold hard facts

SHOULD IT BE RETURNED TO FARMLAND?

If it returns to farmland then it will mean a lot of extra lorry movements during the restoration period. Nevertheless this is clearly what residents want and I do not have much confidence in the excuses presented for saying it is not possible. I think it is far more a case of don’t want to.

GENERAL NOTES:

1) Planning favours the developers. In the 20+ years I have been doing it it always has. Most obviously IF a developer does not get what they want they can go the Planning Inspectorate with an Appeal. IF objectors don’t get what they want- they are stuffed. They have no right of appeal !!! The only recourse they have is to launch an expensive High Court action. That is not allowed to challenge the decision as such, that stands. They have to make the case that due process was not followed, thus invalidating some or all the Granted permission.

2) Residents need to understand that gravel companies can feel aggrieved at the opposition because the principle of extracting from here has already been through the democratic process- and agreed by that process. This site is contained in the Surrey Mineral Plan 2011. In essence 1/3rd of all the new mineral sites for the whole of Surrey- are in Spelthorne, the Borough which already carries the heaviest burden. Before publication it went to Spelthornes cabinet, for any comments or recommendations. Spelthorne cabinet agreed the whole plan without a single change. For councillors from other parts of Surrey if the local council agrees it then why should they go against that? It may be said that things have changed since then- Rubbish. Think of their refusal to help residents fighting the Eco Park, The land they sold to make the fire cuts possible, The threat to Laleham park or the proposed huge Housing development on Kempton Park

3) When it came to the Vote at Surrey I was amazed to see Spelthorne county councillors voting for it. (Note this was in the last council so a couple of councillors on now were not then- so cannot be held responsible)- Nevertheless I am the only Spelthorne councillor to have voted NO to the minerals plan on the grounds of its devastating effect on Spelthorne. From this you can understand why the developers think that the scheme has agreement in principle from Spelthorne

--------------

I am sorry that much of what I say does not offer a lot of hope and is not what you want to hear. In mineral planning especially, the outline strategies are worked out years in advance, they do go through due process and public consultation. and so the planning application is very much the end of a long process. In this case, Indeed For Spelthorne as a whole the sucker punch was Spelthorne’s cabinet not offering any objections to any of it. But sadly that is totally consistent with everything they have done since then right up to present.

Ian Beardsmore

   
  A letter from Cllr Jonathan Essex (Green Party - Redhill East) re MANOR FARM GRAVEL EXTRACTION

…I have attended two site visits now to Manor Farm, I understand that the removal by conveyor is possible as the material extracted is likely to be uniform. I think the problem of bringing inert infill back on a conveyor is based on what this material actually is - not uniform material that can actually be recycled (at least this should not be the case, as it is exactly this which should be recycled to reduce the total need for gravel extraction). I understand that it is not possible to conveyor material back to the site. However, it might be worth asking more details here - if there is a case study where it is identified where this is done elsewhere it would not be possible then to argue that the same cannot be done here.

In terms of the aftercare I am not clear what 'care' is being proposed, and who takes the long term liability for the maintenance of this - as it appears it is owned by Brett Aggregates. What is the purpose of a quarry company to continue to own a lake - unless they intend to further extract or infill at some point in the future? In East Surrey there is a clear plan to restore ex quarry workings, cresting a swathe of new woodland planted along the line of restored quarry workings. Is there any similar strategic plan in Spelthorne? And if so, who is leading and coordinating this? I do agree with you that seeing as quarry workings are dominant in the landscape of Spelthorne a coordinated restoration plan should be considered as part of Surrey's overall minerals plan.

I am not allowed to be of 'fixed mind' now if I am to be open as opposed to predetermined when the planning committee meets but would note that this will be a difficult decision. There is a statutory requirement now (with the government imposing a seven year target on secured supplies of minerals, including sharp sand and gravel which is mainly found inSpelthorne) which in the end may mean that now Surrey Minerals Plan is approved with this site in it, is hard to resist. There is definitely a large cumulative impact of quarrying in Spelthorne, not just during operations but afterwards, and it is not clear to what extent there is a coordinated plan as to the future landscape impact that this brings about -or whether the future will just be the patchwork quilt of what different quarry developers agree to, one-by-one.

Best regards

Jonathan Essex - Cllr, Redhill East

 
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