Fears voiced over expansion plan for Tarmac's Banbury plant that would see 400 lorry movements a day in Hennef Way
A Labour councillor has voiced fears that approval of local councils will encourage construction giant Tarmac to re-apply for consent for a hugely expanded plant in Banbury.
Cllr Hannah Banfield, county councillor for the Grimsbury and Castle ward, says if the company gets its way, more than 400 of its 32-tonne articulated lorries would travel along Hennef Way to HS2 locations, worsening dust, traffic congestion and air pollution which is already double the permitted level on that road.
Tarmac's plan to massively enlarge its Waterworks Road plant and increase lorry movements from 80 a day to 400 has been submitted twice. On both occasions it has been withdrawn although on the latest attempt, both Cherwell District Council (as an observer) and Oxfordshire County Council, as the planning authority, were prepared to give it the green light with conditions, Ms Banfield said.
"The Highways Department proposed a condition that there should be no more than 400 lorry movements a day and only 20 per hour during peak periods but this obviously wasn't what Tarmac wanted and they withdrew the application. I was with a Friends of the Earth officer at the planning meeting but we didn't get the chance to speak as the application was pulled," said Ms Banfield.
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The councillor said she was disappointed that both Cherwell and Oxfordshire councils had changed their minds and presented no objections but mostly she was shocked at the response of the Cherwell environmental protection office which admitted there would be a 'moderate adverse impact' on air quality but said it could be off-set by asking Tarmac to pay a cost for 'off-setting measures' or additional monitoring.
"I find this shocking as Hennef Way has the highest level of air pollution in the county and has a Nitrogen Dioxide reading which is just under double the safe legal limit," said Ms Banfield who has been supported in her fight by the Grimsbury Against Tarmac group.
She told the Banbury Guardian: "I believe the company will not drop this and will return with a new application. They are clearly intent on being able to make more lorry journeys than highways officers have stipulated and that would be catastrophic. We can't ignore the very real air pollution problem on Hennef Way. It is the most polluted road in the county and the one of the most polluted roads in the whole of the country outside London.
"Some of my constituents' homes are only 75 metres from the Tarmac plant and others have gardens backing on to Hennef Way. The health risks are known. We have scientific evidence that high levels of air pollution give people a much greater risk of developing heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and asthma in children and put expectant mothers at a greater risk of miscarrying. It also apparently increases our risks of developing cancer."
Oxfordshire's principal transport planner, Joy White, said in an April report that Tarmac had not identified places for overnight parking for its lorry fleet either on its site or in a 'nearby compound'.
Ms Banford criticised the county council for advertising the plan in the Oxford Times rather than the Banbury Guardian which she felt would have alerted more townspeople to the proposal which she feels sure would have been opposed.
An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: "The Oxford Times circulates throughout Oxfordshire and so it is a relevant local newspaper for advertisement of applications received in Banbury. It was therefore advertised in the local press. "The application was also advertised by site notice and neighbour notification letters and it was available to view on our applications website."
A Cherwell spokesman said: "Cherwell’s consultation response changed because the most recent proposal was an amended scheme that sought to respond to our initial objections. Nevertheless, we submitted comments in response to the most recent proposal saying that there were still remaining issues we would like to see addressed.".
* After going to press a statement was received from Tarmac which said: "The application for developments at our Water Works Way site has been withdrawn on the basis that the anticipated demand from HS2 from this site is likely to be reduced.
"We're therefore reviewing our plans and will keep the community updated. We fully appreciate local concerns relating to the proposals and any additional activities at the site will be carefully planned and managed."