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					 Application Number: ESS/18/08/CHL         Case Officer: Shelley Birch
                                           Ext: 51577
 Site: Broads Green Gravel Pit, Margaret Woods Road, Broads Green, Great Waltham,
 Chelmsford

 Description: Importation of inert materials to restore site of old gravel workings for
 development of land for agricultural use.

 Secretary of State Referral? No                  Date: 29 July 2008


1.      BACKGROUND AND SITE

        The application site is 8.3 hectares in area. It is located in a rural area on Margaret
        Woods Road in the parish of Great Waltham which is in the north west of the
        Borough of Chelmsford. The village of Broads Green is located approximately 400
        metres to the east of the site entrance along Margaret Woods Road. The village of
        Chignall Smealy lies to the west.

        The surrounding area consists of the former gravel pit to the west, now restored
        with a pond in the centre; arable fields lie to the north and south and there are
        horse paddocks to the east. There is a large bund covered in trees to the west of
        the site entrance and evergreen trees along the boundary to the east.

        Vehicular access to the site is via an existing gated entrance on the southern
        boundary along Margaret Woods Road. Approximately 300m of original haul road
        is in existence from the gate in a northerly direction through the site.

        Margaret Woods Farmhouse is located within 100m of the western boundary and
        has views of the site.

        The site forms the eastern part of an historical minerals site which had been
        operating for over 40 years prior to the most recent planning permission which was
        granted on appeal on 20 August 1991 (ref APP/L1500/A/89/143876). The appeal
        was submitted following the refusal of planning permission (ref CHL/1351/88) for
        the extension to the existing quarry on grounds of highway safety, detriment to the
        rural character of the area, adverse impact on residential amenity, loss of
        agricultural land and the fact that the site was not identified in the Minerals Local
        Plan as a preferred site for minerals extraction.

        The appeal decision required the site (then stated to be 7.4 hectares) to be
        restored to a combination of agriculture, woodland and water with a final settled
        depth of topsoil of 250mm. Details relating to the restoration were approved in
        January 1996, however, details of tree species and the method of planting were
        omitted, leaving them for later approval. To date details of species and method of
        planting have not been approved. As a result, after the land was sold by the
        mineral company the site was left partially restored with a large area of topsoil in
        the north western section, a fairly well drained and topsoiled area in the north
        eastern section currently used as grassland and a southern half restored only with
        overburden.


                                              1
The Mineral Planning Authority did not consider it expedient to enforce against the
lack of woodland planting due to the way the restoration condition had been
discharged and the fact that planting may have failed in the poor quality restoration
materials. The planning permission granted on appeal did not allow for the
importation of soils to achieve restoration.

In 2003 an application was made for the restoration of the site using 80,000 tonnes
of inert material consisting of subsoil and topsoil over a period of less than 12
months.

The application was subsequently withdrawn in January 2004 due to concerns by
planning officers at the time covering the following:

   -   The north eastern field was to be spread with soils in order to facilitate
       drainage according to the applicant. The Mineral Planning Authority at the
       time was of the opinion that underdrainage could be used to link in with
       existing ditches and with good management the area could be put to good
       agricultural use. If the area was left alone the existing trees would not have
       to be removed and the existing ecology would remain intact.
   -   A domed landform was considered out of keeping with the surrounding
       landscape and a water feature was not necessary with one already in close
       proximity.
   -   The quantity of soils proposed (2m) was considered unnecessary for the
       establishment of trees. A covering of 0.3m would establish grass and the
       trees already approved could be planted in a pit of better quality soil.
   -   Traffic movements would have significant impact on local residents.
   -   Any further application would have to be comprehensively justified and
       considered against WLP Policy W9B (Landfill for restoration) in particular.

In May 2005 the quality of the restoration of the site was assessed by planning
officers and it was considered that parts of the site were adequately restored to
grassland but there were areas where agriculture, woodland or water would not be
achievable.

Following discussions with Essex County Council’s ecologists it was agreed that it
would not be unacceptable for the areas not in grassland to be left to naturally re-
establish as alternatives would require importation of soils for which there was no
planning permission. Officers considered that proposals to import soils were
unnecessary and considered the site could be satisfactorily restored to a beneficial
afteruse without additional waste materials.

There is a derelict former dwelling which was used as the quarry office located in
the south of the site adjacent to Margaret Woods Road. Planning permission has
been granted by Chelmsford Borough Council for the construction of a dwelling on
this site. The planning permission is valid until September 2009 and it is not the
intention of the landowner to occupy the new dwelling until the former mineral site
has been restored.




                                     2
2.   PROPOSAL

     The application site is the same as that submitted in 2003, although it was then
     stated to be 7.8 hectares and is now 8.3 hectares, the applicant has submitted that
     the discrepancy is due to inaccuracies in computer measuring.

     The application is for the importation of 85,161 m3 of inert waste material to raise
     the ground level and improve gradients to make the land suitable for agricultural,
     woodland/hedgerow, grassland and wetland use. It is proposed that levels across
     the site would be raised by an average of 1.03m and not exceeding 2m. The
     applicant suggests that this is the minimum amount necessary to provide contours
     to allow surface water drainage, improve landscape character and achieve the
     target soils profile.

     The proposal includes the progressive stripping of the existing topsoil and subsoil
     across the site. It would take place in two phases in a north to south direction. The
     soils would be stored in temporary bunds in the southern half of the site and
     replaced on top of the imported inert material, which is proposed to consist of
     topsoils, subsoils and construction and demolition waste from construction sites
     stated to arise from within the Borough of Chelmsford. An additional 9,189m3 of
     topsoil and 5,898m3 of subsoil would be required in addition to that already on site.
     It is proposed that these soils would be recovered from the imported waste
     materials.

     The applicant has not proposed any further processing or treatment of the waste
     materials once on site.

     The site is proposed to be used as 4.0 hectares of agricultural land, 0.7 hectares of
     tree/shrub woodland block and hedgerow, 2.2 hectares of meadow grassland and
     grassland buffer strip, 1.2 hectares of undisturbed peripheral land/vegetation and
     0.2 hectares of shallow ponds and ephemeral wet areas. The proposals include the
     incorporation of hedgerows, grassland and shallow ponds to cater for birds and
     amphibians.

     The application suggests there would be an average of 60 vehicle movements (30
     deliveries) above 7.5tgvw daily. If enough material could be sourced there is
     proposed to be a maximum of 90 daily movements or 45 loads. This would mean
     the operations would take 12 to 18 months depending on the availability of
     materials.

     The applicant has indicated that drivers would be instructed to turn left into and
     right out of the site in order to avoid the village of Broads Green. This implies
     vehicles would use Woodhall Hill and Chignall Road to gain access to the main
     highway network. Vehicles would be likely to take the form of 8 wheeled 38 tonne
     HGVs under the control of the applicant.

     A wheel spinner is proposed to be located on site to prevent mud and debris being
     carried onto the public highway. Works to the existing access are proposed to
     comprise the recontouring of the existing bund to the west and reduction in size of
     the concrete apron at the access.



                                          3
     Hours of operation are proposed at 0700 – 1800 hours Monday to Friday and
     0700-1300 hours on Saturdays. This includes vehicle movements.

     Footpaths 79 and 116 are shown to be routed outside of but parallel to the eastern
     and northern boundaries of the site. The applicant does not envisage that they
     would need to be diverted but they would be fenced off during the works. The
     application also states that a new right of way is proposed but no details are given.

     An ecological report and a soil report have been included in the application

     A standard portacabin and portaloo are the only buildings proposed on site.

3.   POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

     The following policies of the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England
     Adopted May 2008 (RSS), Waste Local Plan Adopted September 2001 (WLP) and
     Chelmsford Borough Council Core Strategy and Development Control Policies
     DPD Adopted February 2008, (CBCSDC), provide the development plan
     framework for this application. The following policies are of relevance to this
     application:

                                          RSS      WLP            CBCSDC
      Need for waste development                   W3C

     Best Practicable Environmental                W3A
     Option
     Access for waste management                   W4C
     sites
     Landfill for restoration                      W9B
     Feasibility of restoration and                W10C
     aftercare
     Development Control                           W10E
     Waste Management Objectives        WM1
     Minimising           Environmental                      CP13
     Impact
     Public Rights of Way                          W10G
     Controlling Development in the                          DC2
     Countryside        beyond     the
     Metropolitan Green Belt.
     Protecting Existing Amenity                             DC4
     Amenity and Pollution                                   DC29
4.   CONSULTATIONS

     CHELMSFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL – No objection subject to conditions
     covering the following matters:
         Development to commence within 3 years
         Development to be in accordance with approved plans and assessments
         Operating hours to be 0800 – 1800 hours Monday to Friday, 0800 – 1300
            hours Saturdays and at no other times or on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
     An additional letter requests that the effect of the development on local water

                                          4
courses is properly addressed in accordance with PPG25 and asks what
measures would ensure all waste material would be inert in nature and sourced
from Chelmsford. Seek assurance that infill is robustly justified.

ENVIRONMENT AGENCY – No objection subject to a condition requiring the
provision of pollution control for groundwater and surface water.

      Recommend ecological surveys are carried prior to commencement of
       works and that Natural England is consulted.
      Tree/scrub management must take place outside of bird breeding season.
      Note that if invertebrates are found to be present during a survey they would
       be significantly adversely affected by the proposals.
      Ask that consideration is given to creating the meadow on nutrient-poor
       substrates.
      Existing tall hedges, dense scrub, broad-leaved woodland and mature trees
       should be retained and protected.

NATURAL ENGLAND – Object due to insufficient survey information to
demonstrate effect on legally protected species within or close to the application
site. Recommend that exposures of soils, gravels and existing floristic communities
are maintained in situ for the benefit of invertebrates. Comment that the site is of
little or no agricultural use and that the best soil resources should therefore be
concentrated in areas which are to have an agricultural afteruse. A mix of
afteruses is appropriate. In agricultural areas the soil profile should consist of 1.2m
of loosely placed rootable soil resource free from non-soil objects. Suggest the
WPA considers whether or not the proposed infill would compromise opportunities
for biodiversity gain.

ESSEX WILDLIFE TRUST – Object due to the ecological survey being carried out
at the wrong time of year.

HIGHWAY AUTHORITY – Objects. In the event that the Planning Authority
considers the application does not provide demonstration of the need for
importation of the proposed quantity of inert waste to satisfy restoration clauses,
the Highway Authority considers the proposals present unacceptable detrimental
impact on the surrounding road network and the site does not connect directly to
the main highway network.

HIGHWAY AUTHORITY – PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY – Object on the grounds
that the definitive line of Footpaths 79 and 116 Great Waltham runs inside the site
boundary and not outside as shown on the application drawings. Any fencing
included should be of a rural nature and a width of at least 1.8m should be
provided for the footpath and if side growth of trees is an issue 2.5m should be
allowed. The importation of waste to increase levels would have a detrimental
impact on the users of the footpaths and may cause problems relating to surface
drainage of the footpaths.

COUNTY COUNCIL’S NOISE CONSULTANT – Raises concerns about the time
period for the operations, the lack of noise information supplied and the impact of
traffic and operations on the area. A noise survey and assessment should be
carried out of the background noise at the closest properties and the impacts of the


                                     5
     proposals on them in line with MPS2.

     NATURAL ENVIRONMENT (ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY & HIGHWAYS) -
     Landscape: Comment that the site has high ecological and amenity value as it is
     and that the proposals would be likely to affect the amenity of the fishing lake to
     the west. Consider the works would be visually intrusive.
     Ecology: Consider the proposals would reduce the nature conservation value of
     the site. The ecological survey was undertaken at the wrong time of year and
     further surveys should be undertaken prior to the grant of planning permission in
     accordance with PPS9. The long term management of the site should also be
     established prior to the grant of planning permission.

     GREAT WALTHAM PARISH COUNCIL – Objects on the following grounds:
        Draws attention to the Great Waltham Village Design Statement which
         requires Broads Green gravel pit to be restored to farmland, woodland,
         fishing lakes or nature reserve, discourages excessive use of HGVs on
         narrow lanes, and is against excessive lorry traffic and noise and
         environmental pollution.
        Supports the restoration of the pit but objects to the current proposal which
         it considers as beyond what is necessary to restore the site and contrary to
         policy.
        Considers there is no evidence to suggest landraising is required for
         restoration to agricultural use.
        Considers the traffic generation and impact on the local roads to be against
         policy.
        Considers the route through Chignall Smealy would create noise and
         danger.
        Raises concerns over inaccuracies in the application forms.
        Considers the proposal unnecessary on nature conservation grounds and
         further survey work must be undertaken prior to the grant of planning
         permission.
        Considers the working hours should be reduced to 0800-1700 hours
         Monday to Friday and 0800-1200 hours Saturdays with no working on
         Sundays.

     CHIGNAL PARISH COUNCIL – Objects on the following grounds:
        All of the above points made by Great Waltham Parish Council.
        More information is required on the types of inert materials proposed.
        Noise levels at nearby houses should be investigated.

     LOCAL MEMBER – CHELMSFORD – Broomfield and Writtle – Objects to the
     application on the grounds that the importation of inert materials is not necessary
     and that the traffic impact through Chignall Road is unacceptable.

5.   REPRESENTATIONS

     7 properties were directly notified of the application. 193 letters of representation
     have been received, including 3 objections from Borough Council Members and 1
     from Essex Police. These relate to planning issues covering the following matters:

     Observation                                 Comment


                                          6
Increase in heavy traffic along the        See appraisal.
unsuitable Chignall Road through
Chignall Smealy causing danger, road
surface damage, pollution and noise.
The road is already congested at peak
times and vehicles often exceed the
speed limit. Schools and a children’s
centre are in the area and no Traffic
Impact Assessment has been included.
There have been traffic incidents in the
past. Ambulances have trouble getting
through this way already.
An air quality survey should be
undertaken.
A Traffic Management Plan should be
agreed.
The Public Rights of Way along the         See appraisal.
eastern and northern boundaries are
inside the site boundary and are walked
daily by local people.
Raising of the land levels would cause     See appraisal.
drainage problems to the road and
footpaths.
Importation of waste is not required,      See appraisal.
only soils, drainage and the addition of
nutrients.
The inert materials may be                 See appraisal.
contaminated and should be properly
monitored.
The application forms are incorrect,       See appraisal.
inconsistent and incomplete making
proper evaluation impossible.
An Environmental Impact Assessment         A screening opinion has been issued
should be included.                        which concluded that an EIA is not
                                           required.
A Flood Risk Assessment has not been       See appraisal.
prepared.
Traffic movements associated with the      See appraisal.
working quarry were less and smaller in
size.
Noise from the proposal is likely to be    See appraisal.
high considering the low background
noise.
Dust and debris will potentially be        A wheel spinner is proposed.
tracked onto the public highway.
There is a deficiency in topsoil on site   See appraisal.
that cannot be guaranteed to be
obtained from construction sites as
proposed.
There are no specific management           See appraisal.
proposals for aftercare.


                                    7
Soil storage heaps are likely to be          See appraisal.
visible from Margaret Woods
Road/Larks Lane.
Habitats for the identified protected        See appraisal.
species should be considered. An
ecological survey should be undertaken
in spring. Orchids grow on the fallow
field and must not be destroyed.
Badgers, slowworms and other wildlife
are abundant on the site.
A financial bond could be secured            Sites would usually be bound by a
through a S106 Agreement to ensure           planning condition requiring appropriate
appropriate aftercare.                       aftercare in the event that planning
                                             permission is granted.
There are not enough sites in the            See appraisal.
Chelmsford area to make up the
quantity of inert material needed so
where would it come from?
Hours of operation should be reduced         The hours proposed are standard hours
and Saturday working should not be           but it may be appropriate to consider
permitted.                                   reduced hours.
A finished level survey is required.         This could be required by condition in
                                             the event that planning permission is
                                             granted.
Bulking factor of soils has not been         The bulking factor has been accounted
taken into account.                          for and proposed vehicle movements
                                             are approximately in line with the Waste
                                             Planning Authority’s calculations.
The proposal is contrary to existing         See appraisal.
planning policies.
The grant of planning permission would       Every application is considered on its
set a precedent for landfill operations in   own merits. The permitting of a waste
the Great Waltham area.                      site does not necessarily mean further
                                             waste sites would get permission in the
                                             same area.
Sale of properties bordering Margaret        Not a planning issue.
Woods Road will be difficult and their
value will decrease.
The application is simply for profit for     Not a planning issue.
the applicant.
Staff from Writtle Wick should not be        This issue is outside the scope of this
allowed to park their cars outside the       application.
premises in the road.
The inert waste may be better used           See appraisal.
elsewhere.
Would the operator be charged for            See appraisal.
repairs/maintenance of minor roads?
The operators should be required to          A new road way would require separate
form a temporary road way from the           planning permission and is not the
B1008 direct to the pit and bypassing        subject of this application.
Broads Green.


                                       8
     It is believed that land drains are         See appraisal.
     already present on the northern half of
     the site. The pH of 7.5 is not high but
     very normal for a chalky soil
     characteristic of the area
     Why has Essex County Council not            See ‘background and site’.
     enforced the original restoration
     conditions?
     Local residents feel vulnerable and         See appraisal.
     consideration should be given to the
     local community using the road
     network.
6.   APPRAISAL

     The key issues for consideration are:

         A.   Principle of Development
         B.   Need
         C.   Highway Impact
         D.   Amenity Impact
         E.   Ecology
         F.   Water Runoff and drainage

A    PRINCIPLE OF DEVELOPMENT

     The development previously permitted on appeal was for a sand and gravel site
     and restoration using indigenous soils.

     WLP Policy W9B (Landfill for restoration) is the relevant policy relating to the
     principle of the development. It states that landfill or landraising for its own sake
     will not be permitted. It must be required in connection with restoration. Landfill
     outside of preferred site boundaries will not be permitted unless it can be
     demonstrated that satisfactory restoration cannot otherwise be achieved. The
     application area is not a preferred site for landfill. It is therefore pertinent to
     consider whether or not the landfill/landraising operations would be essential and
     necessary for the restoration of the site.

     Part of the site (4.0 hectares) is proposed to be used for agriculture. A soils report
     has been included in the application and an independent agricultural assessment
     of the application has been carried out on behalf of Essex County Council. The
     assessment for ECC concluded that the agricultural need for the development is
     slight in terms of national policy issues given the small area of the site and the fact
     it does not form part of an existing agricultural holding. The report also considers
     that for restoration to amenity grassland or tree planting it would be practical to
     leave the northern part (approximately half) of the application site undisturbed.
     The importation of topsoil and subsoil limited to the southern parts of the site
     together with soil ripping and decompaction could feasibly create a satisfactory
     amenity scheme.

     Given the findings of the independent agricultural assessment, the proposed
     importation of over 85,000m3 of inert (waste) material would only bring about a


                                          9
marginal improvement to the agricultural quality of the land. Given this, and that
alternative solutions exist to treat the southern part of the site, such as topsoiling
without the need to import waste, it is not considered vital that the site is restored
to agricultural use in the manner prescribed in the application. It is therefore
considered that the scheme, as proposed by the applicant, is not essential and
necessary for the adequate restoration of the site. The application is therefore
considered to be contrary to WLP Policy W9B (Landfill for restoration).

Given that the site would be most likely to qualify for an exemption from the need
for an Environmental Permit, there may be less control over the types of materials
being deposited at the site. Effectively the operator would be responsible for
sourcing materials and soils which are of a standard suitable to facilitate the
development. The applicant’s own soil report states that topsoil must be selected
to ensure a uniform texture so that the whole site has similar characteristics. It is
not proposed that screening would take place on site which makes the sourcing of
good quality materials even more important in order to prevent large pieces of
hardcore or other unsuitable wastes being placed. It is unclear how the applicant
would assess the quality of the soils obtained from construction sites, which
therefore brings the feasibility of the proposals into question. In this respect there
has been insufficient information submitted regarding this matter and the
proposals are therefore considered to be contrary to WLP Policy W10C
(Feasibility of restoration and aftercare).

It is considered that the site could be adequately restored to woodland as required
by the original planning condition without the importation of waste materials.
Agricultural use is not necessarily the most appropriate form of restoration for this
site.

For restoration to woodland it would be possible to import a thin covering of soil
(0.3m) to establish grass and then dig pits filled with 2 litres of compost or 100m of
compost incorporated into the top 200m for each tree. The Forestry Commission
Handbook 2: ‘Trees and Weeds’, HMSO, 1987, shows that trees can be grown on
infertile sand as long as weeds are controlled.

Overall the inert material is proposed by the applicant to arise from within the
Borough of Chelmsford. It is considered that in this respect, should material arise
from local sources proximate to the site, the proposal would accord with the
locational aims of WLP Policy W3A (Best Practicable Environmental Option).

Nevertheless it is not clear how the applicant intends to ensure all of the waste
would come from within the Chelmsford area and secondly it is considered that
the disposal of construction and demolition waste in landfill is not environmentally
sound considering the requirements for waste reuse and recycling in RSS Policy
WM1 (Waste Management Objectives) and the requirement for the movement of
waste up the waste hierarchy as an objective of Planning Policy Statement 10:
Planning for Sustainable Waste Management. It is therefore considered that the
proposals are contrary to WLP Policy W3A (Best Practicable Environmental
Option) and RSS Policy WM1 (Waste Management Objectives).




                                     10
B   NEED

    It is considered that the need for the development has not been demonstrated, as
    described above.

    The applicant has stated Essex County Council has found a shortfall in inert
    waste facilities in the County. It is, however, unclear where this information has
    been obtained from. Inert waste recycling facilities are operational within the
    Chelmsford area, for example Bulls Lodge Quarry, Boyton Hall and Mid Essex
    Gravel sites. In this respect there are alternative sites, although the emerging
    Development Documents are considering the issue of need for additional facilities
    and conclusions have yet to be reached.

    It is therefore considered that a need for the landfill facility has not been
    demonstrated as required by WLP Policy W3C (Need for waste development)
    and, as the development is not necessary to achieve satisfactory restoration of
    the site the proposals are therefore contrary to WLP Policy W3C (Need for waste
    development).

C   HIGHWAY IMPACT

    The average lorry movements previously permitted on appeal in 1991 were 90 (45
    in and 45 out). In light of this, the Highway Authority felt it was not necessary to
    request a Traffic Impact Assessment as part of the current application. The
    Highway Authority has, however, objected to the proposals on the grounds that if
    the Planning Authority considers the proposal unnecessary then the importation of
    waste would create unacceptable detrimental impact on the surrounding road
    network and the proposal site does not link directly with the main highway
    network.

    Access to waste management sites should be via a short length of existing road to
    the main highway network consisting of regional routes and County/urban
    distributors as required by WLP Policy W4C (Access for waste management
    sites).

    In exceptional circumstances access onto another road may be allowed prior to
    gaining access onto the main highway network if the W aste Planning Authority
    considers the capacity of the road is adequate and there would be no undue
    impact on road safety or the environment. In this respect the Highway Authority
    considers the proposal represents an unacceptable detrimental impact on the
    surrounding road network, which is inappropriate in terms of both width and
    alignment to accommodate the quantity of heavy goods vehicles proposed (60
    daily vehicle movements on average or a maximum of 90).

    Therefore it is considered that the proposal does not comply with WLP Policies
    W4C (Access for waste management sites) and W10E (Development Control) as
    it presents an unacceptable impact on minor roads and risk to highway safety.

D   AMENITY IMPACT

    A landscape statement has been submitted with the application which concluded


                                       11
the impact on landscape character and condition would be a slight adverse impact
during the operational period and a significant beneficial impact on completion
and establishment of works. The assessed impact on visual amenity is stated to
be a slight to moderate adverse impact during the operational period and a slight
to moderate beneficial impact once vegetation establishes.

The proposal site is partially screened by trees along the boundary with Margaret
Woods Road, excepting the area where the access gates are. This effectively
leaves a length of approximately 45 metres open to views from the road.

The site is intermittently screened by trees and hedges along the eastern and
northern boundaries, allowing partial views of the site from those directions. The
land previously extracted and restored lies to the west of the proposal site. There
are uninterrupted views of the site from the restored fishing lake and from the land
beyond it.

CBCSDC Policy DC2 (Controlling Development in the Countryside beyond the
Metropolitan Green Belt) states that planning permission will be refused unless
proposed works would have no material effect on the openness, appearance and
character of the countryside. The proposed operations, including storage of soils
on the southern half the site, would be visually intrusive to Margaret Woods
Farmhouse to the west and the land belonging to it. Although the landscape
statement noted a beneficial impact once works are completed it is considered
that the adverse impacts would be unacceptable for the duration of operations
(the time period for which is uncertain) and as the proposal is not essential for
restoration it is therefore considered to be contrary to WLP Policy W10E
(Development Control) and CBCSDC Policies CP13 (Minimising Environmental
Impact) and DC2 (Controlling Development in the Countryside beyond the
Metropolitan Green Belt).

There has been no information submitted with the application to show how noise
impact would be mitigated. The County Council’s noise consultant considers the
background levels at the site are low and the proposals would have an impact on
the noise character of the area and residential properties close to the site.

Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management
requires consideration of the proximity of noise sensitive receptors and states that
intermittent and sustained operating noise may be a problem if not kept to
acceptable levels. The information provided by the applicant does not give an
indication of what proposed noise levels would be and it is therefore not possible
to assess the likelihood of the operations complying with PPS10.

The County Council’s noise consultant has quoted Minerals Policy Statement 2:
Controlling and Mitigating the Environmental Effects of Mineral Extraction in
England, which states that noise limits should be set at noise sensitive locations
around the site and that they should not exceed background levels by more than
10dB when the site is in operation. The information provided by the applicant does
not give an indication of what proposed noise levels would be and it is therefore
not possible to assess the likelihood of the operations complying with MPS2. It is
therefore considered inappropriate for these matters to be left to the control of
planning conditions as it is not known if the appropriate levels could be achieved.


                                    12
    Accordingly, there has not been enough information submitted to ensure the
    proposals comply with WLP Policy W10E (Development Control) or CBCSDC
    Policies CP13 (Minimising Environmental Impact), DC4 (Protecting Existing
    Amenity) and DC29 (Amenity and Pollution).

    Footpaths 79 and 116 Great Waltham are routed within the eastern and northern
    boundaries of the site respectively. The application is unclear and contradictory
    about the positioning of the rights of way and the drawings show the rights of way
    outside of the site boundary incorrectly.

    The Definitive Map Officer has objected to the proposals on the grounds that the
    importation of waste and raising of ground levels could have a detrimental impact
    on the users of the footpaths and on the surface drainage of the footpaths.

    It is considered that, considering the incorrect location of the footpaths on the
    application drawings, the impact on the rights of way has not been properly
    addressed by the applicant. No clear proposals have been put forward for the
    protection of walkers in terms of visual, aural, dust and safety impact and the
    proposals are therefore considered to be contrary to WLP Policy W10G (Public
    rights of way).


E   ECOLOGY

    An ecological survey has been submitted with the application, however it was
    undertaken in February 2008 which the report acknowledges is not an ideal time
    to carry out such surveys.

    The report identifies a potential bat roost and the existence of slow worms but
    states there is no evidence of badgers (this is disputed by local residents). Bee
    Orchids have historically been present in the north of the site and the report
    identifies them to be present in that location. Further surveys are recommended
    for the presence of bats and slow worms, as well as a survey of the short
    perennial vegetation in the spring to check for rare flowers and a survey of the
    adjacent open water to check for migrant birds. None of these recommended
    surveys have been carried out to date.

    Planning authorities have a duty to have regard to biodiversity under the Natural
    Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. Planning Policy
    Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation states that it is essential
    that the presence of protected species and the extent they may be affected by the
    proposals is established prior to the grant of planning permission. This means that
    it is not appropriate to leave surveys to be dealt with by planning condition.

    The ecological survey states that there would be harm to slow worms if the
    operations were carried out during April to October and a ‘high scale impact’ on
    potentially important areas on the southern boundary of the site. It also states that
    bee orchids would be disturbed and care should be taken to ensure final
    restoration replicates the existing soil horizons and preserves a viable seed bank.
    The removal of the willow trees in the south of the site would result in loss of a bat
    roost and a woodpecker nest and even if the trees were retained tipping around


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    the base would result in their eventual loss.

    Yellow Hammer and Song Thrush birds were identified in the survey. They are on
    the list of species of principal importance provided under the NERC Act which
    public bodies are required to give priority regard to. The tipping and storage of
    material on the southern half of the site would reduce the available seed for these
    species.

    Natural England objects to the proposal on the grounds of insufficient survey
    information relating to legally protected species, including badgers. Natural
    England recommends that exposures of soils and gravels and existing floristic
    communities are maintained in situ for the benefit of invertebrates.

    Furthermore, no details have been presented by the applicant regarding how the
    site would be managed in the long term or by whom.

    Essex County Council’s own Ecologist states that the proposals are not necessary
    on nature conservation grounds and that the proposed final area for nature
    conservation would be much reduced from the existing area.

    It is therefore considered that the proposals would have an unnecessary impact
    on the existing ecology of the site contrary to WLP Policy W10E (Development
    Control) and CBCSDC Policy CP13 (Minimising Environmental Impact).

F   WATER RUN OFF AND DRAINAGE

    A Flood Risk Assessment has not been required by the Waste Planning Authority
    or submitted by the applicant as the site does not lie within a flood risk area. The
    Environment Agency has not raised the issue of flooding but does require a
    scheme for the provision and implementation of pollution control.

    The applicant states that the importation of waste is required in order to level the
    site and prevent ponding or surface water pollution.

    The independent agricultural report commissioned by Essex County Council
    found that the site does lie slightly below the natural ground level of the
    surrounding agricultural land. Drainage is poor according to the report carried out
    by the applicant’s consultant, however this is stated to be mainly due to
    compaction and lack of significant falls across the site. The open ditches and the
    lake to the west provide drainage for any runoff which does occur.

    It is considered that the importation of waste is not the only option available to
    assist drainage at the site. Compaction at the site was relieved when the site was
    historically restored. Taking into account the independent agricultural report, it is
    considered that alternative means of alleviating drainage problems are available,
    such as treating site compaction by ripping surface soils, without the need to raise
    land levels. The proposals are therefore considered unnecessary for the
    appropriate drainage of the site.




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7.   CONCLUSION

     In conclusion it is considered that the principle for this development is not
     acceptable given that the need is not sufficient enough to outweigh the harm that
     would be caused during both the period of operations and potentially afterwards.
     The proposals would only bring about a slight improvement to the agricultural
     quality of the land and are therefore not considered essential and necessary to
     facilitate the restoration of the site. In this respect the proposal does not comply
     with Waste Local Plan Policy.

     The proposals also present an unnecessary detrimental impact to the local
     highway network and users of the highway and surrounding footpaths, to the
     existing ecology on the site, to the surrounding character of the area and to the
     amenity of the occupiers of neighbouring properties which may include an
     unacceptable noise impact. This detriment is considered to outweigh the
     proposed benefits and therefore planning permission should not be granted.

8.   RECOMMENDATION

     That planning permission be refused for the following reasons:-

     1. The importation of waste materials is unnecessary for the restoration of the
        site and is contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W9B (Landfill for restoration).

     2. The need for such an inert landfill site has not been proven and would not
        outweigh the detriment to the area and is contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy
        W3C (Need for Waste Development).

     3. The unnecessary landfilling of inert waste as opposed to reuse or recycling it is
        contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W3A (Best Practicable Environmental
        Option) and East of England Plan Policy WM1 (Waste Management
        Objectives).

     4. The proposed use of soils recovered from inert waste materials is considered
        to be an unreliable method of obtaining soils of high enough quality for feasible
        restoration contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W10C (Feasibility of
        Restoration and Aftercare).

     5. The importation of the proposed quantity of waste materials would cause
        unnecessary detrimental impact on the surrounding road network which would
        not be outweighed by the proposed benefits and s contrary to Waste Local
        Plan Policy W10E (Development Control).

     6. The proposed site access does not connect directly with the main highway
        network and would have unnecessary detrimental impact on highway safety
        not outweighed by the proposed benefits and contrary to Waste Local Plan
        Policies W4C (Access for Waste Management Sites) and W10E (Development
        Control).

     7. The importation and landfill of the proposed quantity of waste materials would
        have an unnecessary detrimental impact on local amenity not outweighed by


                                         15
   the proposed benefits and contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W10E
   (Development Control) and Chelmsford Borough Council Core Strategy and
   Development Control Policies DPD Policies CP13 (Minimising Environmental
   Impact), DC4 (Protecting Existing Amenity) and DC29 (Amenity and Pollution).

8. The stripping and storage of existing soils and filling with imported waste and
   soils would have an unnecessary detrimental impact on the existing wildlife
   supported by the site which would not be outweighed by the proposed benefits
   and contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W10E (Development Control) and
   Chelmsford Borough Council Core Strategy and Development Control Policies
   DPD Policies CP13 (Minimising Environmental Impact) and DC2 (Controlling
   Development in the Countryside beyond the Metropolitan Green Belt).

9. The proposed development would have an unnecessary detrimental impact on
   Footpaths 79 and 116 Great Waltham not outweighed by the proposed
   benefits and contrary to Waste Local Plan Policy W10G (Public Rights of
   Way).




DECISION

By virtue of the powers delegated to me I hereby accept and approve the
above recommendations


for Head of Environmental Planning             Date 29 July 2008




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