Barton in Fabis Parish council have recently circulated their June newsletter, and have given permission for the following extract to be included on this website, so that the latest updates get to more than the usual circulation around the village.
Sand and Gravel – Barton Site
Setback in our fight, but the battle continues
As you may recall, the draft Minerals Local Plan – MLP (which excluded the site at Barton) was due to go to a Public Examination chaired by a government appointed Inspector on June 27th.
Although the recent the County Council elections resulted in no party having overall control, the Conservative group (led by Kay Cutts who represents Shelford – one of the key sites in the MLP) has formed an alliance with the 3 members of the Mansfield Independent Forum to take control of the County Council.
One of her first acts was successfully to force through a proposal to WITHDRAW the current plan at a Full Council on 25th May. Prior to the Council meeting, the Parish Council wrote to all County Councillors objecting to this proposal and pointing out that the absence of a plan would potentially lead to a ‘free for all’ in terms of developers proposing quarry sites. Indeed the Barton letter was a key issue debated in the Council meeting, but unfortunately the numbers were against us. We are sorry to report that our two new County Councillors (Andrew Brown and Reg Adair) not only did not support us and voted to withdraw the plan, but also did not even speak in the debate.
What happens now?
Council officers have been instructed to prepare a new plan based on the latest figures on the demand for sand and gravel. It is true that to say that demand has been lower over recent years and fewer sites may be required. It is certain that there will be political pressure to exclude Shelford and the risk that the Barton site will again be proposed to be included.
The process of developing a new plan will take at least 2 years and the real risk, as the report by officers to the Full Council made clear, is that this:
“could result in planning applications for minerals development being submitted and decided on an ad-hoc / ‘first come first served’ basis, leading to a loss of control by the Minerals planning Authority”.
As you may know, a planning application for the Barton site, outside of the now withdrawn MLP, was lodged at Easter on behalf of Jack Kent and his associates and London Rock. Fortunately, this was not a very professional job and they have been told to take it back to provide more detail on 9 issues such as the impact of the site on air quality.
It is important to note that the County Council is required to maintain 7 years of reserves of sand and gravel and currently has 9.5 years. This should support an argument against new quarries at least for the moment.
We are sorry if this all sounds complicated! The key messages are:
Unfortunately the battle will drag on for longer than we had hoped
We need to be ready to oppose any new proposal for the Barton site