The Stonehenge Farm Quarry Application

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

OCC Planning Committee 12 November 2009

So the Planning and regulation Committee are to meet on 12 November 2009 at 10:30 am. The idea is that the shiny new Routeing Agreement that the officers of the Minerals Department have negotiated with Hanson can be used to persuade the elected members of the Planning and Regulation Committee to withdraw one of their objections to Hanson's Appeal.

As far as we know, the officers have never pointed out to the elected members the useful comments that are to be found in Minerals Planning Guidance 2 Annex C para C9:
(b) Lorry routes

C9. Offers are sometimes made by mineral operators to restrict their lorries to particular routes. Such schemes have sometimes proved successful but not all lorries calling at a site are likely to be in the control of the operator and in law a planning condition cannot control the right of passage over public highways. Some measure of control may result from a condition requiring the posting of a notice at the site exit requesting all drivers either to use or avoid particular routes. Highway authorities have powers under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to make traffic regulation orders to prevent the use of certain roads by unsuitable types of traffic for example heavy commercial vehicles. But such orders, which might restrict by weight or size, would apply to all traffic in prohibited class irrespective of its origin or destination since it would be impracticable to distinguish vehicles visiting a particular site. If there is serious doubt whether local roads can accommodate such increase in heavy traffic as the proposed development is likely to generate, then, unless improvements are made or there is convincing evidence that control of traffic is feasible, planning permission may have to be refused.
This is an authoritative statement of the traffic and routeing situation as it has afflicted the residents of Standlake, Northmoor, Stanton Harcourt and especially Sutton, and it reinforces the conclusion that the elected members were right to refuse on these grounds last November.

In particular, the problem with the proposed Routeing Agreement is that some of the operators at the Stanton Harcourt sites would be subject to the agreement, while others would not. This is precisely the context in which MPG2 Annex C para C9 considers routeing agreements impracticable.

As for flood risk, who knows? The only certainty is that the elected members of the Planning and Regulation Committee will not have been given the time and and the information they need if they are to arrive at an informed and rational decision.

The officers have always wanted this quarry, but OCC's own consultant has expressed some reservations about the flood model. Other experts say that it cannot be used to say that the quarry will not increase risk. On the basis of what is now known to remain unknown, the elected members should have no patience with any attempt to bounce them into withdrawing the flood risk objection.