An appeal against the County Council's refusal of planning permission for a quarry north of Bengeo has been dismissed by the government.
Following a public enquiry at County Hall last year, the Planning Inspectorate recommended that the appeal be dismissed - a recommendation endorsed today by the Secretary Of State, James Brokenshire.
In a letter to the applicant's agent, Douglas Symes, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government wrote: "The Secretary of State considers that the impact on landscape and character, and hydrogeology each carry substantial weight against the proposal. He considers that the impact on living conditions and amenity of local residents carries moderate weight against the proposal,"
"... the operational development to extract, screen, stockpile and transport sand and gravel would have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the area of major significance,"
"the appeal scheme would have an adverse effect on the living conditions of residents and on the amenity of the area"
"the risk of contaminating groundwater would give rise to an adverse effect of moderate significance, which should given substantial weight because of the implications for the public water supply ... the absence of an appropriate mechanism and planning condition to safeguard the aquifer, ... would pose an unacceptable risk to groundwater pollution"
The letter concludes: "... the appeal should be dismissed, and planning permission should be refused."
Planning permission for the quarry was first sought in March 2016 by quarry operator RJD Ltd and landowner Gowling WLG Trust Corporation Ltd. This led to the formation of the Stop Bengeo Quarry campaign, who successfully fought off the application with the County Council refusing planning permission in March 2017. However, a further planning application for a smaller quarry was submitted in the same month, leading to a second refusal in April 2018.
Following the council's decision, RJD and Gowling appealed to The Planning Inspectorate in an attempt to overturn the decision. This led to an 11 day public enquiry in 2018, following which the Government Inspector issued a recommendation to the Secretary Of State to dismiss the appeal.
The applicants now have six weeks in which they can challenge the government's decision in the High Court.
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