RAGE Milton Park Farm Response
RESIDENTS AGAINST GRAVEL EXTRACTION
Egham Residents’ Association, Stroude Residents’ Association,Thorpe Ward Residents’ Association, Whitehall Lane Residents’ Association
Chairman: Moreton Moore Secretary: Mike Kelly Treasurer: Alan Alderson
To Mr Alan Stones,Planning Development Control Team Manager,Environment and Regulation,Surrey County Council,County Hall,Kingston-upon-Thames,Surrey. KT1 2DY
2009 May 14
Ref. SCC Ref 2009/0015/DS/RU09/0299 Milton Park Farm, Egham
Dear Mr Stones,
I am writing on behalf of four local residents’ associations to protest most strongly against Hanson’s application to extract minerals at Milton Park Farm, Egham together with a proposed processing plant, concrete production, overhead conveyor belt and associated infrastructure. All this proposed activity is totally inappropriate in the Green Belt, so close to residential properties.
First, no planning applications for gravel raising should be approved while the overall minerals extraction targets for the South-East are under review and are subject to a Public Inquiry later this year. Until these targets are agreed, it is premature to determine whether Milton Park Farm needs to be developed at all, as its ranking in the list of potential mineral zones will need to be reassessed.
A major concern to residents is any disturbance to the level and flow of groundwater. The drainage in this area of Egham and Stroude is quite complicated, with slowly moving streams, occasional localised flash flooding and artesian effects. We note that the applicants wish to work the site dry, for which impermeable walls of clay are proposed to surround each pit before pumping. These walls will significantly alter the course of groundwater and surface water. The levels may rise or fall, depending upon how well sealed are the impermeable walls, and consequently flooding or subsidence of dwellings may occur. In the eventuality of either flooding or subsidence, what action would Hanson’s or SCC propose for rectification? If this application were granted, why would these impermeable walls not be taken away, after the sand and gravel had been extracted? We fear that the infill for restoration may not be as inert as is being suggested. If this be the case, then there could be health hazards and other serious consequences: possibilities for chemical leaching (pollution), vermin, flies, seagulls (risk of aircraft bird-strike) and unpleasant smells. We need firm assurance on this question. Water is a limited and essential resource, upon which there are ever increasing demands, and it should be carefully protected. We understand that the sand and gravel beds in this area (a Total Catchment Area Protection Zone) are important to the local water company, who extract water, which has been purified by passing through these aquifers, from wells downstream. Removal of these natural water filters may jeopardise both the quality and quantity of our water supply.
Access to the site is by way of minor roads interrupted by railway level crossings. The application Environmental Impact Statement estimates 280 lorry movements per day and the Non-Technical Summary says 230. These are large numbers of lorries, each weighing up to 20 tonnes. The local roads would take a hammering and one wonders if the road bridge across the M25 motorway at New Wickham Lane, proposed to take the majority (95%) of these lorry movements, would stand up to the strain. The remaining 5% of lorries are estimated to turn north, through Egham town and would contribute to the length of the tailbacks at the Station level crossing, already a problem even before the introduction of Airtrack. If the latter should get approval, the gates of this level crossing (and others nearby) are expected to be closed on average for 44 minutes per hour! The roads through Egham are blocked, indeed grid-locked, at peak times and access to dwellings and to Manorcroft School is already very difficult. We are extremely concerned about the ability of emergency vehicles being able to attend life-threatening situations speedily. Extra gravel lorries will make matters much worse. It is estimated that 60% of the lorry movements (that is about 150 per day) would use Vicarage Road and attempt to cross the railway at the Pooley Green level crossing, which is at least as long a wait as at the Egham Station crossing. There is also a difficult turning at a mini-roundabout in front of the Police Station before travelling via The Avenue towards Junction 13 of the M25 motorway. Tailbacks from this level crossing regularly occupy the length of these roads. With reference to Airtrack and the consequent longer down-times for level-crossing gates, one of the conditions being brought forward is the building of a tunnel at Pooley Green. If this gets approval, then during phases of the building construction, there would most probably be diversions in place. A few lorries (5%) would travel from the site eastwards along Thorpe Lea Road, through a residential area and past schools at Hythe, only to be held up at the level crossing there. All this waiting at level crossings, with powerful engines running, would add to the air pollution, already at critical levels, as indicated by measurements of air quality at various locations throughout Runnymede Borough. The only route mentioned without crossing the railway on the level, is the one for 30% of the lorries that would turn south into that section of Thorpe Lea Road leading towards Thorpe and Chertsey. This too has its hazard: namely, a pinch point at the Clockhouse where two HGVs cannot pass simultaneously. There are already excessive numbers of goods vehicles using this route, going to and from the Thorpe Industrial Estate. The junction of Thorpe Lea Road with Ten Acre Lane is problematic and a scheme to replace it by a roundabout has recently been abandoned. We do not know if these lorries would be carrying wet or dry material, nor whether they would drip sandy water or drop chippings, creating additional motoring hazards.
The application also includes a proposal to import cement to the concrete-making works. We anticipate a lot of unwelcome dust flying around. This is a semi-rural area but we already suffer enough intermittent noise from overflying aircraft and continuous noise from the M25 motorway. Quieter aero-engines and noise-reducing fencing alongside the M25 have helped; but the additional noise from gravel quarrying and grading, and from making concrete, from morn till night, would place an extra burden upon all of us. Would the pumping for de-watering the site continue 24 hours per day? And would this create even more continuous noise? We are particularly concerned about the effects upon the children of Manorcroft School, which adjoins the site. It is not at all considerate to propose siting the processing works and concrete-making factory so close to this School, with the noise and dust that we anticipate would be generated, blowing in their direction. The silt lagoon proposed for a location immediately behind the school would also introduce another hazard – Any child who got into the lagoon would never get out.
The Green Belt is intended to keep land permanently open around the Metropolitan Area for all of us to enjoy. There is a presumption against inappropriate development which may injure the visual amenity. Clearly concrete making is not a legitimate Green Belt activity. The visual intrusion of 50-foot high ugly works buildings, as well as the conveyor over Stroude Road, would be conspicuous and would ruin the open landscape. To wreck the parkland setting of important listed buildings, such as Great Fosters and Luddington House, is not acceptable. Yes, restoration is proposed for agricultural use again, but only after 15 years’ time. Why should we lose this amenity for so long?
Residents’ Associations and individual residents will be writing in too and will add further valid points. Residents’ Against Gravel Extraction would wish you to register now our strongest objection to this proposal.
Cllr Moreton Moore, Chairman of RAGE,32 Whitehall Lane, Egham, TW20 9NF email@example.com
cc. The Director of Technical Services,Runnymede Borough Council,Civic Centre, Station Road, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 2AH