Statement from The Minerals Steering Group - No Vale Quarries/RAGE
Proposed Mineral Extraction Site - Charlton
We have been advised by Tarmac’s Strategic Planning Manager for this area that they have now “asked their planning consultant to advise the planning authority that the land at Charlton is not a viable prospect for mineral extraction and to withdraw it from the Mineral Local Plan review process”.
We have been in touch with Worcestershire County Council who advise that they have not yet been asked to withdraw the site from their “Mineral Site Allocations Development Plan Document”. We will follow this up.
Whilst this is great news for our villages, particularly Charlton and Fladbury, the fact remains that the Local Minerals Plan and associated paperwork still identifies numerous key sand and gravel resources in our area. In addition, with regard to the Charlton site whilst this is not attractive to Tarmac, and we think that other mineral extractors would be in a similar position, we must remain alert to the fact that there is a small chance that one of them may take a different view to Tarmac.
During the ongoing draft Minerals Local Plan document review period we therefore need to take every opportunity to continue to press for the local sites in the Avon valley between Evesham and Pershore to be excluded from further consideration for sand and gravel extraction. The next opportunity will be when a planning Inspector reviews the proposed minerals plan. We have already submitted our comments to the Inspector but hope to have the opportunity for a small group of us to be present at the review. We also need to remain vigilant to any possible applications being submitted in the meantime.
As we say, this is great news and we hope you will support our revised focus in ensuring there is no possibility of sand and gravel extraction taking place in our locality.
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus emergency, the formal process of the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan (WMLP) is still stalled. We still have no information as to when or how the Examination In Public (EIP) will proceed.
However, with the assistance of County Councillor Liz Eyre, members of the Steering Group recently held a video conference meeting with senior employees of Tarmac, who previously expressed interest in developing the site North of Charlton, as part of their response to the fourth Call for Sites by Worcestershire County Council (WCC) in 2018. During the meeting, Tarmac reaffirmed their strong interest in this site, but could not confirm if or when they would be submitting a formal planning application, due in part to ongoing negotiations regarding the expansion of another of their sites in Worcestershire. It does appear though that they have continued their investigations regarding the viability of the Charlton site, with positive results, so we expect an application to be forthcoming sometime in the not too distant future. They have discussed the possibility of constructing a site access to the A44 with WCC’s Highways department, but this would not preclude the possibility of heavy goods vehicles passing through our villages to deliver and remove plant and equipment required to set up the extraction process. You can view a map showing the extent of this proposed site taken from the WCC Fourth Call for Sites Response Document below:
The new “No Vale Quarries” website (www.novalequarries.co.uk) devised by Moira and Stuart is now fully up and running with regular updates, and we have delivered leaflets to every house in Bricklehampton, Charlton, Cropthorne, Fladbury and Wick describing the aims and objectives of the Residents’ Action Group (RAGE), encouraging residents to get involved and asking for anyone with skills and experience in areas including public relations and communications, fundraising, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and website design to get in touch to volunteer their services to support the Group.
As we believe that one of the key elements of the objections that we will raise to any forthcoming planning application will be the detrimental effects on the roads and environment in and around our villages, we would ask that residents document any instances of road congestion, accidents and / or near misses involving lorries, trucks, tractors etc. preferably with photos, and submit them directly to the No Vale Quarries website.
The Examination in Public (EIP) of the published version of the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan (WMLP) is still postponed, with no indication as to when this might be rescheduled. We have heard that it is possible that some form of virtual examination process might be implemented using a video conferencing service such as ZOOM, but nothing has been confirmed as yet. Since we submitted comments to the EIP Programme Officer prior to the original hearing dates (see previous update below), we should be kept informed of the new arrangements for the EIP. We also continue to monitor the Programme Officer’s website for any updates.
The new dedicated website for the No Vale Quarries Residents’ Action Group, created by Moira D'Adda and Stuart Adams, is now up and running and available for public viewing. Please either use the link: www.novalequarries.co.uk or type the address directly into your search engine. As you will be aware, no formal planning applications have yet been submitted to Worcestershire County Council for minerals extraction in our area, so the objective of the website for now is to further raise public awareness of the potential threats that could arise in the future as the result of the WMLP. The website contains contact details for our Parish, District and County Councillors and also our local MP, should you wish to write to contact them about the issues.
If anyone has any comments on the website please contact either Stuart or Moira using the link on the “Contact” page.
We also intend to print and distribute leaflets regarding the formation of the Residents’ Action Group and the details of the new website to all residents of Bricklehampton, Charlton, Cropthorne, Fladbury and Wick, and will again be asking for volunteers to help with the deliveries at the appropriate time.
Worcestershire County Council is preparing a Mineral Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD). Once completed the DPD will allocate specific sites and preferred areas for mineral development to support the delivery of the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan and provide greater certainty about where mineral development will take place. It will be used alongside the Minerals Local Plan to determine planning applications.
Sites promoted for consideration in the DPD are shown for information in the DPD webmap (opens in a new window). No decisions have been made about these sites yet.
Paul Sharpe has joined the Steering Group. Paul has experience of similar campaigns and was previously heavily involved in the movement to prevent a wind farm proposal from being accepted for a site at Lenchwick.
As I'm sure you will recall, the Steering Group agreed to make representations at the Examination In Public (EIP) of the published Plan, scheduled originally for 5th ~ 7th May 2020, and we sent off our statements in both paper and digital forms on 17th March, in line with the published instructions. However, earlier this week we received an email from the Programme Officer (who is responsible for administering the EIP) stating that in light of the most recent Government Guidance to control the Coronavirus outbreak, Local Plan hearings for the Worcestershire Minerals Local Plan have been postponed. She went on to say that at this stage it is not possible to be certain when the hearings might be rescheduled but this is unlikely to be before late Summer or Autumn. Once new dates have been arranged participants will be notified.
If you want to read the text of our representations you can download a summary .pdf file below. Throughout the document "MIQ" refers to the "Matters in Question" raised by the Government appointed Inspectors in response to the Publication Version of the Minerals Local Plan.
In the meantime, Stuart Adams and Moira D'Adda have pressed on with the creation of a website to publicise the threat and our opposition to it to the widest possible audience. It is hoped that this will go 'live' within the next few weeks, and we will publish details of how to access it as soon as it is available.
We have now established a Steering Group comprising Nigel Barker, Roger Davies, Moira D’Adda, Peter Pawsey, Stewart Rampling, Richard Sims and Ian Southcott, who will coordinate our opposition to these proposals over the coming months.
Apart from the threat of the quarrying of these materials and all the disruption and disturbance that will result, every day up to 50 heavy lorries will be used to transport the sand and gravel from the site to the A44 through our villages. Any plant or equipment required by the minerals extraction processes will also need to be transported by road through our villages.
We will be setting up a website to communicate with residents as well as using all the methods available to us to keep you informed as this threat unfolds. We have already met and briefed our MP, Nigel Huddleston on these proposals and how we plan to fight them. We will also be appearing at an Examination in Public in May before a Planning Inspector who will be assessing the legality and soundness of the Minerals Plan.
Watch this space and get involved in stopping this existential threat to our villages.
Following the recent public meetings in Cropthorne and Charlton Vilage Hall, the Steering Group met on Monday 10th February to discuss a programme of action. A meeting was also held with Nigel Huddleston MP to ensure he is fully briefed and aware of the threat to our villages.
Watch this (and other) spaces!
Following the Public Meetings held in Cropthorne and Charlton Village Hall on 22nd January, an action group has been formed and everyone who gave their permission on the forms circulated at the meetings will be kept informed of progress. Meanwhile a copy of the presentation shown at the meetings can be downloaded and viewed below.
As previously reported, in line with UK Government requirements, Worcestershire County Council has prepared a new Minerals Local Plan. The Fourth Stage Consultation on proposed new site selection methodology has been completed and a report issued. All local Parish Councils together with Wychavon District Council contributed to the consultation exercise.
A Response Document setting out the comments received and initial officer responses to them has been published and is available on the Worcestershire County Council website at:
If you click on the link to "Download the Response Document" you will be able to see the comments made by Charlton Parish Council in consultation with our District Councillor, Tony Rowley, on 8 elements of the consultation document, and these can be viewed on pages 49, 107, 145, 149, 162, 194, 204 & 207.
Worcestershire County Council subsequently stated that comments received had been considered and amendments would be made to the relevant documents as necessary.
Following consideration of all responses received by Worcestershire County Council, the Minerals Local Plan has been submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination.