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Oxted Sandpit

May/June 2011

OXTED SANDPIT OUT OF THE MINERALS PLAN/ AGGREGATES RECYCLING CENTRE SCRAPPED

The Government Inspector's Report into the Surrey Minerals Plan has been published and we're very pleased and relieved that it has recommended that the Sandpit in Barrow Green Road is deleted from the Plan as a preferred site for future sand extraction. Surrey County Council has now done that.

As a result of the Inspector's decision, the County Council has also abandoned its proposal for an aggregates recycling centre at the Sandpit. If this had gone ahead it would have meant hundreds more lorries on local roads.

But while there's reason to celebrate in Oxted, residents in Nutfield, Bletchingley and Godstone are very dismayed by the report because the three new quarries proposed - two in Nutfield and one in Bletchingley - are still in the Plan, now approved by the Inspector. They are likely to face planning applications for a huge amount of quarrying, all close together in Green Belt land, with the threat of hundreds of HGVs.

To read the Inspector's reports click here. For Oxted comments see paras 74 - 80 of the report on the Examination into the Primary Aggregates DPD.

The primary reason for the Inspector's recommendation to delete the Sandpit is that Surrey County Council failed to take proper account of the existing problems in Oxted with uncontrolled numbers of HGVs using the Chalkpit.

It's been a tough battle for Oxted and we're extremely grateful to Mr & Mrs Al Fayed for their support and for funding planning and legal advice. We're also grateful to East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah, to Oxted councillor Martin Fisher, to Tandridge District Council, to Sutton and East Surrey Water and to the British Horse Society who all attended the hearings and spoke against the Minerals Plan.

It's a pity that it has taken such a long, expensive and complicated legal process to force Surrey County Council to take notice of local people. We must hope that they've learnt some lessons and, in the future, will listen better to residents and the real issues that they raise, before pressing ahead with proposals that have not been properly considered.

It's very disappointing that the green light has been given for such a massive amount of quarrying in Nutfield and Bletchingley. If it goes ahead, development will stretch all along the foot of the North Downs ravaging Green Belt land and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The sheer scale of it threatens to pollute the local environment over a wide area and choke the roads with heavy lorries

Seven residents groups in Tandridge worked as a team to try to defeat the County Council's destructive Minerals Plan and, although Oxted has won out, our celebrations are muted by what's happened elsewhere.

Mr Al Fayed summed it up when he said: 'This is excellent news for Oxted but I do feel deep sympathy for other areas such as nearby Nutfield and Bletchingley where three quarries are proposed in the Green Belt threatening widespread damage to the environment.'


January 2011

OXTED SANDPIT MINERALS PLAN HEARING

The residents group would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along to the Oxted Sandpit hearing in Kingston on 20th January. And our appreciation also to all those people who sent messages of encouragement and support.

The hearing into Surrey County Council's Minerals Plan was conducted by a government Planning Inspector, Mary O'Rourke.

The Plan proposes massive development in this part of Surrey including extending Oxted Sandpit in Barrow Green Road for sand extraction and also making it into an aggregates recycling centre. If approved, this would mean hundreds more lorries on our narrow residential roads in addition to the ones using the Chalkpit Quarry less than a mile away.

We felt we did all we could to explain to the Inspector why the proposals would seriously aggravate the existing intolerable problems with lorry traffic in Oxted. Local people and the British Horse Society outlined the extreme road safety dangers which would result from the County Council's irresponsible plan.

Phil Littleford from Chalkpit Lane described the appalling situation he and his neighbours live with and how Surrey County Council has done nothing in the past 3 years to try to improve things. He underlined the fact that the Chalkpit is used by uncontrolled numbers of HGVs. They are uncontrolled because, when SCC gave planning permission, it failed to attach any condition limiting lorry numbers.

Oxted Councillor Martin Fisher also gave compelling evidence about the intolerable Chalkpit quarry lorry situation and how impossible it is to control where the lorries go.

Sam Gyimah MP made a powerful statement, at the start of the hearing, objecting to the scale of minerals extraction proposed by Surrey County Council with four new quarries planned in a small area of Tandridge.

Mohamed Al Fayed, who has very generously funded the experts needed for the residents group to fight this plan, attended the hearing and a lunchtime news conference where he made his own views very clear, stressing his love for Oxted and vowing to continue to do all he can to protect the Green Belt from unnecessary development.

What surprised all of us was the County Council's apparent lack of knowledge about the Sandpit site and its history. For example, they stated in their final submission document that the Sandpit was currently operational and there had been 'few complaints' about it and 'no accidents involving HGVs'. The Sandpit has been shut for 10 years at least!

We don't believe that the County Council have carried out proper and thorough assessments, especially regarding transport and hydrology issues and hope the Inspector comes to the same conclusion and declares the Minerals Plan unsound. She has a huge amount of paperwork to wade through now and is not expected to give her decision until April.

Surrey County Council has been represented every day of the 2 week examination by a barrister at public expense and in the last 4 years has spent more than £200,000 of taxpayers' money on external help with the Minerals Plan.

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Last month, the Environment Agency refused a landfill permit for the Sandpit because of the unacceptable amount of HGV traffic this would generate in addition to the Chalkpit. We hope this decision will be helpful with regard to the Minerals Plan because the lorry traffic, resulting from its proposals, would be immense.

We also hope that as well as helping Oxted, this decision may assist other Tandridge sites targeted in the County Council's Minerals Plan, such as Mercers Farm on Nutfield Marsh, where the impact from the large numbers of HGVs involved, in addition to existing traffic, would be appalling.

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As well as Oxted, the Minerals Plan proposes 3 more quarries crammed together in this part of Tandridge - one in Bletchingley, which already has North Park Farm Quarry, and 2 in Nutfield. Development will stretch all along the foot of the North Downs, ravaging Green Belt land and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The sheer scale of the development threatens to pollute the local environment over a wide area.

If approved, this Plan will destroy large areas of treasured countryside and choke the roads with heavy lorries.

Sutton and East Surrey Water has given evidence to the Inspector about its concerns over the pollution of water supplies and the depletion of the aquifer in this area. All 4 sites are on the same aquifer.

It's become clear that the Plan is based on flawed evidence, is unsound and does not comply with planning law. Environmental assessments have been wrongly carried out; the 'sieving' process by which SCC ruled out some sites and ruled in others has been misapplied; the amount of minerals to be extracted is too high and bears no relation to the amount actually required; large reserves of soft sand have been left out of the Plan for no apparent reason; there has been no assessment of the cumulative effects of so much development in such a small area.

Hundreds of residents have campaigned for the Plan to be scrapped and petitioned the government. The Surrey Mirror has run a campaign to "Scrap the Plan" and we are very grateful for their support. To read all the campaign coverage click "Latest News" button.

Despite the widespread opposition, from residents, from East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah, from Tandridge District Council, from the local water company, Surrey County Council has pressed on regardless .

There's been a public outcry against SCC's refusal to take any notice of what local people think and its 'patronising and arrogant' attitude towards the intervention of Mr Gyimah.

He has strongly supported residents, writing to the County Council last July to say it was 'grossly unfair' to continue with a Plan that shows such disrespect for local opinion.

But Lynne Hack, a Surrey County Councillor, rejected his plea saying Mr Gyimah was 'new', that planning was 'extremely complex' and that 'perhaps he misunderstood'. This reply prompted many angry letters.

The County Council's behaviour is especially galling because it has executed a shamless U turn over the Minerals Plan. Last February, before the general election, the Council leader, Andrew Povey, went on BBC Television and blamed the Labour government for the whole thing.

He said: ' It is actually the government that says that we have to have a minerals plan and I'm sorry they are not here today to defend it ..and not only do they say we have to have a plan but they set out the numbers of tonnes of sand and aggregates that we have to extract from within Surrey. It's not really within our power to stop that'

When asked what he thought of David Cameron's ideas if he were elected at the May election, Dr Povey commented:

'I suspect that what he's saying is that instead of the government saying we have to have a minerals plan and have to accept a certain volume of minerals, that would be for local authorities to decide. That would be a valuable freedom.' (See Latest News to see "The Politics Show")

The government has now given SCC the freedom to revise the Plan and to redetermine the volume of minerals to be recovered, but it has refused to do so.

Witness Lynne Hack's comments on The Politics Show on 11 July You'll note the contrast between what Dr Povey said in February and what she now says. And in a recent letter, Dr Povey states: 'I strongly believe we have come up with the best plan for Surrey as a whole.'

We very much hope the Inspector will see the justice of our case, will find this flawed and ill conceived Minerals Plan unsound and will send it back to Surrey County Council to do the job properly.


July 2010

We are calling on Surrey County Council to withdraw their Minerals Plan which was submitted to the Secretary of State on 15 June for examination by a Planning Inspector.

This Plan, which will cause great damage to Tandridge's Green Belt, is unchanged despite new advice from the coalition government that it intends to rapidly abolish the South East Plan and the targets in it on which the Minerals Plan is based.

It's also despite the comments of SCC's leader, Dr Andrew Povey, on television in February when he blamed the Labour government for Surrey's Minerals Plan.

He said: ' It is actually the government that says that we have to have a minerals plan and I'm sorry they are not here today to defend it ''..and not only do they say we have to have a plan but they set out the numbers of tonnes of sand and aggregates that we have to extract from within Surrey. It's not really within our power to stop that'

When asked what he thought of David Cameron's plans if he were elected at the May election, Dr Povey commented:

'I suspect that what he's saying is that instead of the government saying we have to have a minerals plan and have to accept a certain volume of minerals, that would be for local authorities to decide. That would be a valuable freedom.'

Full interview in Latest News Archive (21.02.10 - The Politics Show)

The government has now done just that and given SCC the freedom to revise the Plan and to redetermine the volume of minerals to be recovered, but they are refusing to do so.

This was made clear by SCC's Cabinet member for Environment, Dr Lynne Hack, speaking on The Politics Show on 11 July (interview in Latest News Archive 12.07.10) You'll note the contrast between what SCC's leader said in February and what SCC are now saying.

Dr Hack spoke of "sharing the pain". We would point out that Oxted already has a lot of pain with the Chalkpit Quarry used by huge, uncontrolled numbers of HGVs dumping waste, resulting in extreme road safety dangers. They are uncontrolled because, when SCC gave planning permission, they failed to attach any condition limiting lorry numbers.

The new government has made a big point about protecting the Green Belt and it seems a shame that such a predominantly Conservative council appear to have little regard for this and are sticking to the old government's plan. As well as Oxted, the Plan will destroy much Green Belt land in nearby villages and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Bletchingley.

The County Council are targeting the Oxted Sandpit in Barrow Green Road for extension for further extraction of sand. They also want to make it an aggregates recycling centre for construction and development waste. This waste would be brought in to the site by HGV where it would either be dumped as landfill, or recycled and driven away again - by HGV. This is in addition to the Chalkpit operation.

We are told by minerals experts the recycling centre is an alarming prospect because these are invariably noisy and dirty and involve lots of lorries. Also, once in place they stay in place, thereby delaying restoration of the site for a long time.

The Minerals Plan examination is due to start on 14 September at SCC in Kingston. The Group intends to take part in the examination with the aim of persuading the Inspector that the Plan is seriously flawed and should be rejected as 'unsound'.

To read details of the Surrey Minerals Plan click here

February 2010

There have been widespread protests against Surrey County Council's plans for massive new development at Oxted Sandpit in Barrow Green Road which will mean a huge number of extra lorries on the roads and 'HGV hell' for nearby residents.

The story attracted a lot of press interest - see Latest News Archive. To read the Sunday Telegraph's coverage click here

The residents' group has sent in a 14 page objection to Surrey County Council which details why their proposals break planning law. It says the County Council are 'irresponsible' and 'unreasonable' to put them forward knowing the existing problems caused by the huge numbers of HGVs already using the Chalkpit Quarry, less than a mile away from the Sandpit. It says it is 'incomprehensible' that these problems have not been properly taken into account and that the Council have chosen a course of action which makes them worse.

The full objection document can be read in Latest News Archive (22.02.10)

The County Council are targeting the Sandpit for extension in their 'Surrey Minerals Plan'. They also want to make it an aggregates recycling centre for construction and development waste. This waste would be brought in to the site by HGV where it would either be dumped as landfill, or recycled and driven away again - by HGV.

This is as well as the existing Chalkpit operation. That's not even referred to in the Plan despite all the protests, petitions and evidence of major road safety risks and major environmental damage that local people have presented to SCC over the past two years. No attempt is made to address the lorry issue or to consider the cumulative impact on the community and the environment of operating the two sites together.

As well as Oxted, the Minerals Plan targets sites in villages all along the A25. Residents in Nutfield, Bletchingley and Godstone have also been protesting about environmental destruction. They fear their villages and rural roads will be choked with heavy lorries. The sites are all in the Green Belt and some are in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A planning application has already been submitted for Pendell Farm in Bletchingley and we wonder what is the point in producing a Minerals Plan if major applications are made and decided before the Plan has even been considered.

The Minerals Plan also names Mercers Farm, Nutfield Marsh as a preferred site. This is totally unsuited for access by large numbers of HGVs. It is in the Green Belt, is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, and is important for great crested newts and over-wintering lapwings - their habitat would be destroyed if the proposal goes ahead.

Tandridge District Council and East Surrey MP Peter Ainsworth have strongly objected to the contents of the Minerals Plan.

January 2010

There are new proposals from Surrey County Council for development at the Oxted Sandpit in Barrow Green Road and for continuing activity at the nearby Oxted Quarry in Chalkpit Lane.They are contained in a draft document just published for consultation called the 'Surrey Minerals Plan.'

The Plan proposes extending the Sandpit for further sand extraction and, in addition, making it into an aggregates recycling centre for construction and development waste. This waste would be brought in to the site by HGV where it would either be dumped as landfill, or recycled and driven away again - by HGV.

It seems inevitable that if either the extension and/or the recycling centre goes ahead it will mean a large number of extra lorries on our roads. These will be as well as the lorries using the Chalkpit site. That site is only referred to in the Plan as a continuing source of chalk. The main problem, the huge number of HGVs already involved in the landfilling going on there, is not mentioned. In fact the Plan makes no attempt whatsoever to address the HGV issue, nor does it consider the cumulative impact on the community and the environment of this new plan to operate the two sites together.

There has been a consultation process and both Tandridge District Council and East Surrey MP Peter Ainsworth have strongly objected to the proposals.

The residents' group was not notified of the consultation but did find out about it at the last minute and managed to submit a few comments. Surrey County Council has apologised for leaving us out and has allowed further time for the group to give its views - until 22nd January.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is still considering whether to issue a permit for landfilling at the Sandpit. It had been originally expected to make a decision by the end of June.

News that the Agency was likely to issue a permit for a second landfill site close to the Chalkpit one prompted widespread protests because of the increase in lorries and the serious risks of yet more environmental damage from noise, HGV traffic and dust pollution

Mercers Farm, Nutfield

The Minerals Plan also names Mercers Farm, Nutfield Marsh as a preferred site. This is totally unsuited for access by large numbers of HGVs. It is in the Green Belt and is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. The site is important for great crested newts and over-wintering lapwings - their habitat would be destroyed if the proposal goes ahead.

The County Council says that if anyone wants to be sent updates on the Plan they should email mdf@surreycc.gov.uk with their name and address - and email address if they want to be updated by email.

June 2009

OXTED SANDPIT- NEW LANDFILL THREAT

The Environment Agency has said it's likely to issue a permit for landfilling to begin at Oxted Sandpit in Barrow Green Road just along from the Chalkpit Lane horror. That would mean even more HGVs on the roads. A final decision is expected soon.

Appalled residents marched in protest against the massive amount of landfilling in Oxted. They and their neighbour, Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed, have threatened legal action if the permit is issued. Lawyers for Mr & Mrs Al Fayed and the residents' group have written to the Agency saying a decision to issue a permit would be "perverse" and "susceptible to successful legal challenge"

The Agency has said that in making its decision it only has to consider what happens within the Sandpit not what happens outside. However East Surrey MP Peter Ainsworth has established that this is not correct. He has tabled a Parliamentary Question to establish the Agency's remit and the reply he has received states:

"The Environment Agency has a duty to take action to reduce any negative impacts that are a direct result of a permitted activity. The Environment Agency's criteria apply both inside and outside the site"

As a result he has written to the Agency official responsible for the Sandpit and to the Agency's Chairman reminding them of their duty to take account of the bigger picture and, in particular, of the intolerable number of HGVs that will result from granting the permit.

March 2008

A new Landfill application (quite separate from the one at the Quarry Chalkpit Lane) has been submitted to the Environment Agency

The site in question is the Oxted Sandpit in Barrow Green Road and has been submitted by Killoughery Waste Management.

This is yet another proposal that will destroy Oxted's rural character and the quality of life of its residents.

The leader of Surrey County Council. Nick Skellett, has written to the Environment Agency urging them to consider the Chalk Pit Quarry Landfill and Oxted Sandpit together, as the combined effect of these two developments could mean as many as 300 HGV's per day using Barrow Green Road.

He has urged them to reduce the intake at both sites.


The Environment Agency
National Permitting Team
Trentside Offices
Scarrington Road
West Bridgford
Nottingham
NG2 5FA

Dear Sir/Madam

OXTED SANDPIT INERT LANDFILL AND CHALK PIT LANE QUARRY

I write following the notice published advising of Killoughery Waste Management Ltd's application for a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) permit at Oxted Sandpit, Barrow Green Road, Oxted.

There is current planning permission in place from Surrey County Council at this site that allows 55 HGV lorries (110 movements) per day in Barrow Green Road from Monday to Friday and 30 HGV lorries (60 movements) on a Saturday. The operation was on hold awaiting the construction of the roundabout at the junction of the A25, which was needed to comply with planning requirements. However, the roundabout has been in place for over five years and the operator has not taken the opportunity of using the new highway infrastructure in that time.

It is important to raise the issue with you now as there are problems with operating the waste landfill site due to a licence already covering the Chalkpit Lane site, which is located very close to Oxted Sandpit. This licence allows 100,000 tonnes per year waste disposal from Chalkpit Lane Quarry.

It must be possible to look at the overall position, as theoretically there could be as many as 300 HGV movements in Barrow Green Road per day, which is unacceptable. As the local Councillor, I have received many representations from residents who are rightly very concerned that granting a further application, that will result in the operation of two sites simultaneously, will cause a gross intrusion to their lives.

I understand that the aim of the Environment Agency is to protect the environment. In view of the huge environmental impact on the residents in this area, I must urge you to look again at the current licence for Chalk Pit Lane and the application for Oxted Sandpit together, giving serious consideration to the effect on residents and the Tandridge Priory Riding Centre. It is imperative that these operations are not looked at in isolation so I would ask you to reduce their inputs by lowering disposal rates at both sites.

Yours sincerely

Nick Skellett
Leader of the Council