The restoration of Castle Barn Quarry in Sarsden, Chipping Norton, has planning permission but only through the use of on-site materials. A local councillor fears expanding the scheme could mean too many lorries driving through the town centre.
Oxfordshire County Council acknowledges a previous operator of the site left insufficient material to complete work which would require an estimated 49,200 cubic metres of inert waste to be shipped in. Inert waste is materials that do not change over time, such as unusable materials from building sites or highways projects.
CD Brooks & Partners has applied to more than double that amount – the council estimates it would take 118,000 cubic metres – in new plans that would increase the biodiversity of the land but the authority’s officers argue the benefits would be wiped out by the extra lorry trips.
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Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) estimates 28,000 HGV movements would result in more than half a million kilometres being travelled under current proposals, although council officials reported that a more modest scheme could be supported.
After more than an hour of questions and debate, councillors decided by seven votes to three to defer any decision in order to seek clarity on whether this should be deemed a major application and what the balance is between extra biodiversity and increase in lorry trips.
Officer David Periam told the county council’s planning and regulation committee: “There is a need for the site to be restored with some imported material now but what we don’t think there is a case for - if it is concluded that this is major development - is that there are exceptional circumstances or that it has been demonstrated that it is in the public interest.
“I think we would have understood and had more sympathy if something had been put forward seeking to address the shortfall for what was already permitted. That is not the application before you.”
Councillor Yvonne Constance OBE (Con, Shrivenham), who voted against delaying the decision, had argued: “Yes, it is more than double the volume of inert material to move in and it will take a bit longer but it does seem to me to meet the public interest test because of its contribution to biodiversity.”
However, committee chair Councillor Geoff Saul (Lab, Chipping Norton) advocated a cautious approach. “We do need to think carefully about what this application is all about,” he said.
“Is it a landfill or land-raising operation going by the way of restoration when there is already a satisfactory scheme in place?
“I am rather concerned about the number of HGV journeys which may be coming through the middle of Chipping Norton. It is over what would be required under the current scheme, more than twice the number of HGV journeys.”