The Committee is asked to consider the proposal.
A summary of the presentation was presented by the Case Officer, Denis Canney, (Senior Planning Officer ), aided by a Power Point presentation.
The Case Officer proceeded to the main presentation and explained the proposal before the Committee was to seek permission to extract approximately 1.4 million Tonnes of clay from an agricultural field near to the existing Wellacre Quarry.
The Committee viewed the submitted site location plan. The plan showed the site outlined in red with the extraction area dashed blue. Wellacre Quarry was located to the North West, Paxford was to the North East, Aston Magna to the South East and Draycott was to the South West. Adjoining the site to the East was the Cotswold Main Railway Line.
The existing brickworks were located in the Parish of Blockley. The site was located off the B4479 Station Road. The Case Officer explained the site itself was currently in agricultural use and measured approximately 12.7 hectares (Ha) of which approximately 8 Ha would be for mineral extraction. The existing site (21 Ha), where the brickworks was located, included Wellacre Quarry (9 Ha) to the North and ancillary industrial / commercial land-uses. The surrounding area was rural, comprising of predominantly arable fields.
Members were advised the nearest residential properties/agricultural dwellings from the application site were at Stapenhill Farm and Longmeadow located 300m to the North East and North respectively. Kettle’s Barn was located 390m to the south and Wellacre Farm was located 420m to the West.
The application site lay within the Cotswold AONB. Wellacre Quarry was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS). Grade II listed buildings were located at Stapenhill Farm and Wellacre Farm; and also within the village of Blockley. The nearest Scheduled Monument (Upper Ditchford medieval settlement) was located 1km to the West of the site.
The Case Officer reported that Blockley Brook flowed West to East through the site which then joined Knee Brook and eventually the Thames. An area of Flood Zone 2 and 3 was located either side of the Blockley Brook. A Public Right of Way (PROW) (Blockley Footpath 16) crossed East to West through the site and bridleway (Blockley Bridleway 23) passed along the site’s Southern boundary.
Slide 3 showed the Direction of Works showing 5 phases. The plan also showed the water treatment area, temporary soil storage area, Blockley Brook and bridge crossing, haul road running parallel to the railway line and Station Road crossing point.
The Case Officer explained that rate of mineral extraction from Loaders Barn and Wellacre Quarry would be up to 50,000 T per annum (pa) stated as being the capacity of the brickworks. Quarrying operations were proposed to take place in 5 phases over 24 years.
Slide 4 explained that Years 1-3 would involve site preparations including topsoil and overburden storage within the application site. Slide 5 showed that Years 3-10 would see the export of overburden material and clay to Wellacre Quarry and the brickworks. From Year 10, clay would be removed from the site to the brickworks.
Slide 6 displayed Year 24 which showed stripped overburden and soils placed for restoration along with overburden from the storage area. Slide 7 sections showed views from PROW Footpath 16 (top) and PROW Bridleway 23. The bottom section showed the soil bund would be 3m tall and the overburden bund 5m tall.
Slide 8 showed the Concept Restoration Plan. It showed the PROW Bridleway 23 which adjoined the South of the site (purple dots) and PROW Footpath 16 crossing the haul road and railway line to the North of the site (yellow dots). Joining the PROW was the proposed Permissive Path on the Western boundary of the site. Tree and hedgerow planting was depicted by green dots with woodland blocks (green) and water bodies in blue.
Slide 9 referred to the initial extraction slide. Clay would be transported by dump truck to the existing brickworks via a new haul road, running from the extraction area parallel to the railway line nearby. The haul road, measured approximately 6m wide and 400m in length, would be soil stripped and appropriately stored .hedgerow planting on the southern boundary of the haul road would be implemented within the first year of operation.
The overburden removal would generate 8 movements per day (16 movements) and the operations would generate approximately 6 loads of clay per day (12 movements). The intention was that site traffic would give way to the through-traffic on Station Road.
Mining operations were proposed to take place during the day between the hours of 0700 to 1800 Monday to Saturday and not at all on Sundays, Bank Holidays or Public Holidays. It was reported that the applicant had since agreed to not work Saturday afternoon. No artificial lighting was proposed within the application site. Blockley Brook would be culverted with mitigation for otters implemented at the point of construction of the bridge/culvert.
Members were advised that a crossing with the B4479 (Station Road) would be formed to allow access to the brickworks along with a new hedgerow, where necessary, planted inside the visibility splays. Towards the southern side of Station Road on the haul road would be located a wheel wash. A road sweeper would be used, when required, to ensure that the crossing point was kept free from mud or clay that was not removed by the wheel wash. In addition, collected rainwater from the base of the extraction area would be pumped to the surface water settlement treatment area (lagoon) before being released into the Blockley Brook. Other disturbed ground, such as the haul road, would also be drained to the settlement lagoons.
Slide 10 showed the Final Void with southern overburden mound removed and placed for restoration. The soil screening mounds would remain in situ until required for restoration. Slide 11 detailed progressive restoration of the site, which would be undertaken concurrently with extraction operations to a mix of agriculture and meadow with woodland blocks, water and hedgerow. The applicant had stated there was no intention to import material to bring the land back to original levels, hence a water body was proposed in the final restoration. A “Permissive” public access was proposed upon restoration through the restored site to link with the existing PROW access network.
At Slide 12, the Case Officer explained that Section 3 of the Officer Report at Page 7 referred to the planning history and showed the updated Review of Mineral Permission in 1999 along with a deepening and widening application in 2015. The application referred to the removal of the overburden material from the site to Wellacre Quarry.
The Case Officer explained that the Officer Report from page 8 provided the planning policy context with the recently adopted Mineral Local Plan policies on pages 10 to 15 and the Cotswold District Council Policies on pages 15 to 20. Pages 21 and 22 of the report summarised the publicity undertaken and the representations made.
The Committee noted that the application was advertised by site and press notice.
It was explained that representations received in favour of the application, were on the following reasons:
• Good employer;
• Rural employer;
• Long standing business in the community, supports the local people, local charities and provides important employment to many, skilled employees,
• avoids imports;
• Heritage, artisan, bespoke brick supply, master brick maker;
• Traditional firing technique;
• Supports businesses indirectly;
• Important to maintain UK manufactured bricks; and
• Winner of the RIBA National Sterling Prize for its bricks and the Brick Development Association's National Brick Awards' Supreme prize on no less than 3 of the last 4 years, putting Gloucester at the forefront of traditional quality brick making.
Representations against the application were on the following reasons:
• Visual impact;
• Located in AONB and visible;
• Noise impact;
• Property value depreciation;
• Hours of operation;
• Ecology impact, including the destruction of environment and biodiversity, Knee Brook drainage interference;
• Flooding impact;
• Highway safety concerns regarding clay/mud on roads, crossing point on Station Road;
• Increased volume of traffic through villages;
• Road use delay;
• Tourism reduction;
• Concern regarding restoration being achieved;
• Light pollution;
• Need for heritage bricks disputed;
• Bricks not used locally;
• Brick works has moved from a small local business to a” huge industrial polluting monster”;
• Incorrect accident data;
• Concurrent working of two sites;
• Fossil fuel use;
• Opencast operation; and
• Need for quarry should not override concerns
The Committee were advised that pages 22 to 39 of the Officer Report summarised the consultation responses. It was noted that objections were received from Cotswold District Council and the Cotswold Conservation Board regarding the impact on the AONB.
It was noted that the Planning Considerations were set out in Part 7 of the Officer Report on pages 39 to 83. The main issues related to:
• The need for the mineral development and planning policy context including impact upon the Cotswolds AONB; and
• The environmental impacts of the proposed development.
The Case Officer explained the planning policy context regarding the need for the mineral development as this was due to the current inferior clay reserve at Wellacre Quarry and was detailed in the application submission. The clay at Wellacre Quarry would be used for blending purposes at the brickworks.
Relevant Mineral Local Plan (MLP) policies were summarised in paragraph 7.4.2 of the Officer Report on page 40 onwards. Members were asked to note that MLP Policy MW04 referred specifically to Brick Clay referring to a 25 year land bank as well as making a positive contribution to growing local economies and upholding cultural heritage. Paragraphs 7.4.5 to 7.4.11 of the Officer Report considered this policy, concluding that the proposed development would provide a contribution towards the supply of brick clay necessary for the long term production at the Northcott brickworks or beyond for at least 25 years throughout and at the end of the MLP period.
The Officers report also considered that the proposal would make a positive contribution to sustaining or growing local economies (including securing the long term securing of 65+ direct jobs) and upholding cultural heritage throughout Gloucestershire. As such it was considered that the proposed development was in accordance with Policy MW04 Brick Clay.
MLP Policy DM09 detailed that landscape was also most relevant to the determination of this application. This policy considered mineral development within an AONB. The Loader’s Barn proposal was, by virtue of its size and scale, a major development within the Cotswold AONB. As such, it had to be shown it that it was in the public interest and should only be permitted under exceptional circumstances. To demonstrate this, an overriding need for brick clay must be shown along with the ability to show that the local economy would not be subject to unacceptable adverse impacts and that alternative non-AONB sources of brick clay could not be used having taking into account their working constraints and availability based on practicality and viability grounds.
The Officer Report considered in detail Policy DM09 on pages 40 to 51 including the CCB objection. The report also referred to the relevant NPPF policy before concluding on page 53 that the NPPF did not raise any material considerations which were not considered through the policy considerations and did not raise any matters which outweighed the primacy of the development plan.. Overall, having considered the exceptional and public interest requirements of NPPF paragraph 172, MLP DM09 and MW04, the Officers considered reasons in favour of the proposal including:
• being located closer to the brickworks than a site further afield, resulting in less transport impacts;
• compliance with national and local policy (MLP MW04) regarding land bank provision;
• securing brick production in the long term and preserving existing jobs (direct and indirect);
• likelihood of being t a more sustainable option by avoiding the environmental cost and financial cost of securing the appropriate clay resource from further away;
• provision of high quality clay from Loaders Barn in order to augment current reserves of poorer clay quality;
• allowing continued long term provision of bespoke bricks; and
• reduction in flood risk in local area by removal of some of the catchment and the acceptance of flows into the site from the Blockley Brook in extreme events.
The Case Officer then went on to advise the Committee on the environmental impacts of the proposal, The Planning Statement provided information on the following;
• Landscape and Visual Amenity, (including Arboriculture);
• Ecology and Biodiversity;
• Archaeology and Cultural Heritage;
• Noise and Air Quality;
• Hydrology and Hydrogeology;
• Highway and Transport; and
• Rights of Way
The Case Officer explained that, in his opinion, Landscape and Visual amenity (including restoration), ecology and biodiversity and noise and air quality were the main issues. Members were advised that that landscape and visual amenity (including restoration) were detailed in the Officer Report on pages 53 - 55. The application was supported by a Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) at Chapter 3.2 of the Planning Statement and Appendix 7.
Overall the County Landscape Advisor (CLA) did not object to the proposed development and the full consultation response was set out on page 35 -38 paragraphs 6.16 of the Officer Report. The CLA was of the opinion that with an appropriate phased detailed restoration proposal conditioned for early submission, then the submitted application was acceptable in landscape and visual terms.
At Slide 13 it was explained that the LVIA examined the effects of the proposed development through the change on the landscape. The LVIA recognised the site and study area were part of the Cotswold AONB and lay within National Character Area (NCA) 107: Cotswolds that displays a number of characteristics which define this area. The site was located within Pastoral Lowland Vale Landscape Character Type and displays some of the characteristics of this classification. The dark green line on Slide 13 showed the Cotswold AONB boundary which lies to the West of the line.
Slides 14 to 25 displayed the various viewpoints in relation to the site. Slide 26 showed the submitted site access detail including the visibility splays and tree and hedge removal.
The Case Officer informed the Committee that Slide 27 reverted to the proposed concept restoration plan which showed the Permissive Path benefit referred to in detail in paragraph 7.6.14 of the Officer Report. It was explained that the long term public provision could not be secured by planning condition alone after the 5 year aftercare period.
Overall, the Officer Report concluded that, having considered the landscape and visual impacts during and post development, the proposed concept restoration and the advice of the CLA, the proposed development was considered acceptable subject to appropriate restoration and aftercare conditions to accord with MLP Policies DM09 and MR01.
In relation to noise, paragraphs 7.9.14 - 7.9.25 on pages 67 – 70 of the Officer Report detailed these factors. Slide 28 showed the Noise Sensitive Properties used in the Noise Assessment. It was noted that noise concerns regarding the proposed development were raised by CDC, CCB, the parish council and the public. The district planning authority, CDC, stated that “the cumulative impact of the adjacent quarry works would adversely impact upon the overall tranquillity of the AONB in this location.”
The Case Officer explained that the CCB considered that the proposed development would have significant adverse impacts on the tranquillity of the AONB and strongly disagreed with the assertions that the proposed development would: “constitute temporary or infrequent workday noise” or be “consistent with Policy CE4 (Tranquillity) of the Cotswolds AONB Management Plan”. The CCB considered that an adequate assessment had not been undertaken regarding noise and had not compared the scenario where the Wellacre Quarry had come to an end.
The Committee were informed that, having considered the planning policy context and advice in the NPPF and PPG, Officers had concluded that the applicant had appropriately considered the noise impacts of the proposed development on noise sensitive properties but not on the nearby PROW network. The MPA considered this was required to assess whether operational noise impacted to an unacceptable degree upon the amenity enjoyed in using the PROWs near to the proposed site, as well as the impact on tranquillity in the AONB. The noise concerns raised were considered to be relevant matters which needed to be addressed in the determination of the application.
Slide 29 showed the predicted noise levels at the PROWs during routine operations. Slide 30 displayed the predicted noise levels at the PROWs during temporary operations i.e. creation and removal of soil and overburden bunds/storage areas.
The assessment provided by the County Acoustic Advisers assessed noise impact on the users of the PROW 16 and 23. The duration of the impact differed for routine operations (up to 1 minute) and temporary operations (up to 9 minutes). The assessment identified that the baseline noise assessment was already affected by nearby existing industrial and transportation noise sources. Any impact would be within the thresholds set within the PPG and could be within noise limit conditions accordingly. Based on the technical advice provided by the CAA, Officers did not consider that there would be, subject to planning conditions, an unacceptable noise impact on the users of the PROWs.
The site was located in an area of the Cotswold AONB that was not considered by Officers to be particularly tranquil because of the existing industrial and transportation noise referred to in the baseline noise assessment in the application documents. It was accepted that at the identified Noise Sensitive Properties (NSPs) that there was unlikely to be an adverse noise impact. At the PROWs there was some impact, but it was of a transient nature and for a temporary period and was within thresholds identified within the PPG. Conditions controlling noise limits were recommended regarding both the NSPs and the PROW’s affected.
Therefore it was concluded that, subject to compliance with planning conditions controlling noise limits at the NSPs and at the PROWs, the proposed development would be in accordance with Policies DM01, DM03, and DM09 of the GCC MLP, Policies EN4 and EN5 of the CDC Local Plan and paragraphs 170 and 180 of the NPPF.
At this juncture in the meeting, it was noted that Councillor Bird had to leave the meeting and would no longer be participating..
In terms of air quality, Slide 31 showed the Air Quality (AQ) Plan Site setting and Receptors. The AQ assessment concluded that;
• There would be no additional traffic movements onto the highway network and impacts were negligible;
• There were no ecological sites of European or national interest close to the site;
• There was one residential receptor within 400m of the site - it was considered that at worst there would be a slight adverse effect on this receptor; and
• It was not considered to be a potential for breach of the air quality objectives at any location.
It was noted that the AQ Assessment submitted had been assessed by the County air quality advisers. It concluded that the proposed area of extraction and associated activities were a sufficient distance away (over 300 metres) from sensitive human health receptors such that they were unlikely to cause any loss of amenity due to dust emissions during construction and operation, subject to appropriate mitigation being identified and secured. Residual effects were deemed not to be significant.
The advice considered that a Dust Management Plan (DMP) was established to manage dust impact. Whilst the proposed conditions referred to dust mitigation, they do not include a Dust Management Plan. This would need to be agreed with the MPA. This was an omission and it was proposed that an extra planning condition regarding the submission for approval of the MPA of a DMP be attached to the decision notice if the application was approved at Committee.
The Committee were advised that, having considered the planning policy context and technical advice provided, Officers had concluded that the applicant had appropriately considered the noise impacts of the proposed development and had suggested appropriate mitigation. Concerns raised regarding air quality impacts were not considered so significant, with mitigation, to be considered unacceptable. As such, subject to appropriate planning conditions, it was considered that the proposed development would be in accordance with Policies DM01 of the MLP and EN15 of the CDC Local Plan.
The application was supported by a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) and Slide 32 showed the Preliminary Ecological Assessment Site Survey. The Case Officer explained that keys on the slide. Trees 2 and 3 (red dots) showed trees with a high potential for bat roosting, red hatching showed tall/ruderal game cover, the orange area was semi improved natural grassland, blue was standing water, green dot - scattered tree, green crosses – scattered scrub , ‘A’ denoting arable with ‘TN’ representing Target Note numbering.
Members were advised that the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) identified the need for additional survey work for badgers, bats, otters, crayfish, water voles and breeding birds/barn owls. These surveys were carried out at the appropriate time of year. The PEA also considered the opportunity for the enhancement of habitats to produce biodiversity net gain. It concluded that the proposed restoration scheme would create habitat for a range of protected species in the long term. The County Ecologist considered that the information contained in the PEA, Bat Activity Survey, Bat Roost Survey, Breeding Bird Survey (Including Barn Owl), Otter, Water Vole and Crayfish Survey (OWVC) and the Otter Mitigation Method Statement were sufficient to assess and inform a decision on the development. Detailed comment could be viewed in paragraphs 7.7.7 to 7.7.55 of the Officer Report.
The County Ecologist raised no objection to the planning application subject to planning conditions and advice notes. The County Ecologist considered that, with safeguards, mitigation, effective restoration and long-term aftercare, the development could result in an overall biodiversity net gain being achieved. Given the sensitive location within the AONB and a range of protected and priority species matters to be managed, the proposed development must be properly secured. This could be done by appropriately worded conditions as recommended and also by the imposition of a S106 Agreement. The Agreement would cover the ongoing management beyond 5 years for each completed phase of aftercare.
Having considered the planning policy context and advice in the NPPF, Officers had concluded that the applicant had appropriately considered the ecology impacts of the proposed development. As such, it was considered that the proposed development would, subject to planning conditions, be in accordance with Policies DM05 and DM06 of the MLP and EN7 and EN8 of the CDC Local Plan.
The Case Officer concluded at Slide 33 that the application sought removal of 1.4M Tonnes of clay from agricultural land within the Cotswold AONB. The clay was required for use by the nearby brickworks and would significantly contribute to maintaining the supply of bricks for at least 25 years for such an industrial mineral in accordance with the MLP Policy MW04 and the NPPF. In this respect the proposed development was in accordance with this MLP Policy.
The Case Officer informed the Committee that the purpose of the application was to secure a long term reserve of clay of a sufficient quality for blending purposes with that from the existing Wellacre Quarry for use at the brickworks. The applicant had stated that there was a two year supply of suitable good quality clay available at Wellacre Quarry. The brickworks employed 66 employees. It was indicated by the applicant that these jobs were at risk if a source of good quality clay could not be secured. The social and economic argument regarding the preservation of a rural employer supported that identified in the AONB Management Plan. Officers agreed with the social and economic case made and was considered to accord with MLP Policy MW04.
The Case Officer remarked that the application site was by definition located in a “sensitive area” in that it was within the Cotswolds AONB. It was also considered to be “major” development. The NPPF at Paragraph 172 identified that: “Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues…..” and “…The scale and extent of development within these designated areas should be limited. Planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development was in the public interest….”
The applicant had put forward a case for the exceptional circumstances being satisfied. Officers had considered the evidence put forward regarding the “…cost, and scope for developing outside of the designated area...” Officers accepted that on practicality and viability grounds there was merit in the case made. Overall, in the planning balance, Officers considered that the proposed development did accord with MLP Policy DM09 – Landscape regarding major development in Part b (III) of that policy.
The restoration of the site was a material consideration if the extraction of clay was deemed acceptable in the AONB location. The CCB had objected to the proposal for the reasons referred to above. NE had clarified their position regarding its consultation response and deferred its consultation response regarding the designated landscape to the CCB. The CLA advised that the proposed concept restoration, subject to detailed design and controlled by planning conditions, to be acceptable in landscape terms in this part of the AONB.
In the consideration of this application, Officers had had regard to the “highest status of protection” referred to in the national policy context and in particular focusing on the requirements contained in the MLP Policies DM09 Landscape and MR01: Restoration, aftercare and facilitating beneficial after-uses.
The County Ecologist had raised no objection subject to the attachment of planning conditions. Biodiversity gain was required and also controlled via planning conditions - although its management outside the 5 year aftercare period for a further 5 years for each phase of restoration completed would require a Section 106 planning obligation. Given the location in the AONB, it was considered necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms, directly related to the development; and fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.
The acoustic information provided had been assessed and was accepted as appropriate with regard to noise sensitive properties. Consideration had also been given to the impact on users of the PROW Footpath 16 and Bridleway 23 and the tranquillity at this location in the AONB. Whilst there was found to be a noise impact, it was such that it would be transient and of a temporary nature for approximately 9 walking minutes and within PPG thresholds. The site location was already affected by nearby industrial and transportation noise and Officers had concluded that the impact on users of the PROWs would not be unacceptable.
The Highways Authority had raised no objection to the proposed development subject to planning conditions and informative including compliance with Section 184 of the Highways Act prior the proposed access being brought into beneficial use.
The environmental impacts of the proposed development were able to be managed through planning conditions to acceptable levels such that they were not expected to give rise to any significant adverse impact on the public and the nearest residential properties.
The Case Officer referred to Slide 34, which detailed the recommendation
“ It was recommended that planning permission was granted for the reasons set out in this report and summarised in paragraphs 7.14.1 – 7.14.11 subject to the prior completion of a S106 planning agreement to secure the long term provision of biodiversity management of a further 5 years outside the 5 year aftercare period for each restored restoration phase, and substantially in accordance with the conditions contained in the report and regarding an annual tonnage limit of 50,000T between this application and that of Wellacre Quarry and dust management”.
The Chairman invited the registered speaks to address the Committee. The facilitator recapped the order of the speakers for the benefit of the public via You Tube.
Mr Stewart Bell (Objecting):
“As the former chairman of the Parish Council when the application was made. I'm very well aware of local concerns of many parishioners. unlike the existing quarry the proposed sites is in a central beautiful unspoilt Valley. It will create a scar of a landscape but cannot be shielded as it will be seen from the hills and villages all around.
The stark reality of traditional fired bricks is that their manufacturing process creates a very serious environmental impact, the highest among any brick manufacturing. The firing of the clay consumes large amounts of energy produced from fossil fuel, causing the release of C02.
A fossil fuel used by Northcott bricks is with coal imported from Colombia. The emissions released are from the combustion of this fuel and are the gaseous emissions driven off, as the clay is fired, that includes sulphur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen chloride.
The emissions are released from a chimney down through the Valley, where the temperature inversion traps them causing a build-up of dangerous pollutants.
Noise pollution from the proposed new cast pit will echo throughout the Valley. Unlike the existing quarry where it's been very deep since the early 1900s and thus contains much of the noise. Noise from the new site will be heard in the villages of Paxford, Aston Magna, Draycott, Ditchford and Blockley.
The officer's report states about being no complaints about current noise for five years and the applicant is not aware of any. This is untrue, there have been many complaints. I myself have complained directly to the brickworks and the applicant, the managing director who personally acknowledged my complaint. Complaints were also copied to the Environment Agency who holds copies.
The environmental impact on wildlife will be significant the proposed mine is positioned left to Blockley Brook this is chosen because water needs to be pumped out of a quarry and disposed off.
It is acknowledged in the report that otters, water voles, White clawed crayfish all protected species live in Blockley Brook. Approval of the application would make a mockery of wildlife protection laws.
The application is not in the national interest, there is no overriding national need for the mineral. There is no shortage of clay or bricks locally or nationally. This new pit will produce clay of which there is no shortage in the UK. The British Geological Survey clearly states this. There are over 3000 million bricks produced in the UK every year.
The officer’s report asked where else the brickworks could source clay from, the applicant failed to answer this question, one wonders why. This application is not in the public interest.
The Cotswold AONB should be protected, it is known and loved for its honey limestone, honey coloured walls and buildings.
The brickworks application makes much of the fact that they say that the bricks are used a lot locally. This is not the case in the AONB. Tourism is the lifeblood of the Cotswolds. Why would tourists wish to visit when there are machines producing 108DB on a flat Valley and the scar seen from all around. There could be little doubt with this application will cause real harm to the local tourist economy.
Loss of employments is always a serious concern but it’s questioned by many if the Wellacre’s quarry is shortly to be exhausted as it is claimed. It should be noted that the employment in the brickworks is mainly minimum wage workers, most of whom travel a distance to work.
Workers in brick manufacturing face major health problems from exposure to have the substances that includes respiratory disease, occupational asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and silicosis a form of lung fibrosis.
Much of that site is already repurposed as a trading estate, if this was increased there would be many more jobs created without the health hazards involved.
Approving this application will lead directly to increased air pollution, noise pollution, water pollution and destruction of the wildlife and habitats. Causing significant environmental damage and increased carbon emissions. The UK economy was the first economy to fit a set zero emission by 2050 this application flies in the face of that ambition.
I urge you to reject the application and protect the AONB. As your decision will affect the parishioners of the Paxford, Draycott, Ditchford, Aston Magna and Blockley for generations. Thank you”
Mr Tom Gold (Presented by Mr Jeremy Mahony) (objecting):
“My name is Jeremy Mahony. I am here representing the views of Mr and Mrs Tom Gold of Stapenhill Farmhouse, a neighbouring property.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP’s election manifesto stated: "I shall continue to promote the Cotswolds, which is one of the most attractive parts of England, by supporting the thriving agricultural and tourist Industries". We believe this proposed development is not only contrary to the spirit of the local MP's stated aims, but is also not in the Public interest; and what's more the disbenefits to the community and the tourist industry hugely outweigh any benefit, which is limited to only the applicant.
We doubt the need for the quantity of end product. I quote from the Builders Merchants Federation: ‘There are more than sufficient stocks of bricks to meet most needs. Bricks, which are barely used in the Cotswolds anyway, will not be needed so much elsewhere. As both Boris Johnson and Lord Goldsmith state ‘build back greener’ and when so many shops and offices are vacant in our cities, the housing stock will be filled by conversion rather than new-build. Ergo, we shall need fewer bricks, not more.
Also compromising an asset of nature, however thoughtfully and sympathetically you do so, you lose that asset for ever. The damage is irreversible; particularly as in this case where the proposed "act of recovery", the creation of a lake or reservoir, is entirely inconsistent with the fact that the piece of land is in an area of Pastoral Lowland Vale. For proof of this you need go no further than Wellacres Quarry, which, according to the GCC Atkins report, 28 January 2020: "will result in a less than optimum restoration to this quarry". The prospect of another "less than optimum restoration" at the end of the life of this quarry with two open cast pits is frankly "less than" appealing.
The noise pollution from the new quarry will be more considerable than suggested. The report provided is unhelpful providing information on noise levels at the brickworks, not the quarry. A diesel lorry of the type likely to be used on the proposed site will emit 80-100 decibels and not just "up to 70". The intensity of the noise will be so much greater when three or four lorries and/or trucks are working and certainly will be higher than normally acceptable levels. Added to this will be the noise from the generator and the pumps at the extraction point and the water retaining tanks, both of which may have to be activated during unsocial hours. The local population and tourists will be required to say goodbye to the tranquillity and serenity previously enjoyed and which is one of the main attractions of this area. Tourism creates local employment.
The proposed development will inevitably have a detrimental effect upon the Blockley Brook (which, incidentally, does not flow into the Thames, but the Severn (1.6). When the natural flow of the brook is interrupted, wildlife will be disturbed and endangered; and the flow is likely to be intermittently either excessive or insufficient; and when it's excessive the prospect of flooding looms. Clause 7.11.9 is incorrect. The Golds can confirm there has been flooding on many, many occasions over the last 20 years.
Finally and to summarise, there is no need for this project. There are significant disbenefits in this development in the AONB of noise pollution, the loss of agricultural land, the inevitable loss of tourists in the area, disruption of the waterway and the loss of tranquillity generally outweighs this proposed development, in this AONB. We don't need to consult Extinction Rebellion on the effects of interfering with nature; we interfere at our peril and to our cost.
The proposed development is not in the public interest, it is solely in the private interest of the applicant and is indeed contrary to the welfare and well-being of the general public.”
Richard Hunt (Agent):
“I really don't want to get into a slanging match and starting to contradict previous two speakers but there are a couple of points which I think need correct.
The first is that coal is not purchased by the applicant from Columbia, the second is that there is a concern expressed amount exposure to harmful emissions. The workforce are the people who would have the greatest and longest exposure to any of those potentially harmful elements.
A recent X Ray examination of the workforce showed that there is zero industrial lung disease at the brickworks.
However this application is for the winning and working of the mineral, the basis of the need for the mineral which is accepted by the case officer, is that it is feeding brickworks, but the brickworks themselves will continue.
Obviously as the recommendation is to grant planning permission subject planning conditions, I endorse that recommendation and I can confirm that I have had some input into earlier versions of the planning conditions. However we haven't had sight of condition 12 and I'm assuming that that is from the recommendation that's been put up on the screen now, is a total extraction aspect of 50,000 tonnes combined between the two quarries. I can confirm that the applicant will be content to accept that figure.
What condition 12 was originally trying to do was limit the amount of material taken away from the extraction site, such that the restoration was that has been recommended to you is guaranteed. So the quarrying operation itself is very unobtrusive, it's very low key and the clays works on a daily basis.
So there isn't massive campaigns of extraction and then stock piling to allow the clay to weather, it is used immediately on extraction and taken into the brickworks for use. So the environmental impacts of the proposals be considered a series of reports, which resulted in no objections from following statutory non statutory consultees, Natural England, Environment Agency, Networks Rail, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Severn Trent Water the Local Lead Flood Authority and I could continue to list them.
The Officer has given you a very comprehensive explanation of all of those people and the lack of objections have come forward.
The two objections from statutory consultees I think he has dealt with in an excellent manner in his report and has come to the conclusion that the proposals are largely in accordance with the development plan. That is the minerals and waste development plan and the District Council local plan.
We acknowledge that there are 19 representations of support and 19 objections for rejection, but the benefits come forward again set out the economic benefits, the provision of a safe tried and tested building product, biodiversity enhancement and post restoration flood alleviation. there is a requirement recommended that we enter into a section 106 agreement, we have offered to accept a planning condition that covers a period of 10 years of aftercare and we feel that there is no need to take your already overworked legal Department to start creating a legal obligation.
I would like to draw attention to paragraph 7.4.16 of the committee report where it stated that the mineral planning authority considers the proposed development would not prejudice the conservation of the character features and qualities of the landscape where the site is situated or the scenic beauty of the AONB overall.
I commend it to you for your approval”
Public speakers were invited to remain in the virtual meeting if they wished to do so.
The Chairman called for a brief adjournment, the Committee reconvened at 15:50pm.
The Chairman invited questions from Members following the presentations.
Councillor Morgan wished to know if the specialist clay was used to manufacture engineering bricks. The Case Officer explained that the clay source was dependant on the physical and chemical properties.
Councillor Preest felt there was a need for site visits and he proceeded to refer to the recent train derailments in Scotland and Hampshire, he felt it would be remiss to ignore the Cotswold mainline, in relation to the site. Members were referred to page 27 of the Officer Report, paragraph 6.7 which detailed the Network Rail response, it was noted there was no objection subject to the conditions. Councillor Preest remarked that recent rail events superseded the response. The Case Officer explained that conditions were acceptable to Network Rail.
Councillor Cordwell required confirmation in relation to the AONB and that the site was on the edge of the boundary. The Case Officer confirmed this was the case, as it was an arbitrary boundary, and was covered in the Landscape Character Assessment.
Councillor Hirst questioned if the existing quarry at Wellacres was still in operation on the nearby site. It was confirmed that was the case. However the new application site was required for the quality of the clay reserves. The applicant needed to secure a long term provision of good quality clay - if not this would limit the production and could impact on jobs going forward. It was explained that the lifetime of the quarry would be determined by this application, and the restoration time of the quarry would also be impacted.
Councillor Fisher felt that the Officer Report was clear and concise and well informed Members as to the extraction of clay.
On there being no further question, the Committee entered into debate.
Councillor Fisher wished to propose to accept the Officer Recommendation within the report. Councillor Cordwell seconded this proposal.
Councillor Morgan remarked that stock piled amounts would be used when required and he was happy to support Councillor Fisher.
Councillor Hirst stated if the application were refused then it would inevitably cause the brickworks to close.
The Case Officer clarified that a Section 106 Agreement would be required and this was subject to the applicant’s acceptance. The amended conditions were read out for the benefit of the Committee. These were duly noted as:
- Tonnage extraction limit - Revised condition 12:
“The combined total tonnage of clay extracted from Loaders Barn and Wellacre Quarry as indicated by the red and blue lines on drawing number M17.148.D.015 Rev B dated October 2019 shall not exceed 50,000 Tonnes in any calendar year (January to December) and no more than a total of 100,000 cubic metres of overburden shall be removed from the Loaders Barn site”.
- Dust management Plan condition to be added - Revised Condition 30:
“Within one month of the commencement of development, a dust mitigation scheme, including a dust management plan to minimise dust emissions, shall be submitted for the written approval of the Mineral Planning Authority. The scheme shall include details of all dust suppression measures and the methods to monitor emissions of dust arising from the development including the mitigation measures identified in the submitted Air Quality Assessment report dated November 2019 (Ref: 01.0142.001 (v2)). The scheme shall then be implemented as approved with the approved dust suppression measures being retained and for the duration of the development hereby permitted”.
On being put to the vote, the application was unanimously passed (11 in favour).
The Planning Committee therefore:
That planning permission be granted for the reasons set out in the Officer Report and summarised in paragraphs 7.14.1 – 7.14.11, subject to the prior completion of a S106 planning agreement to secure the long term provision of biodiversity management of a further 5 years outside the 5 year aftercare period for each restored restoration phase, and substantially in accordance with the conditions contained in the report, to include an annual tonnage limit of 50,000T between this application and that of Wellacre Quarry and a Dust Management Plan condition.