Tuesday, 23 September 2014

My latest report to St Enoder Parish Council

My report for tonight’s meeting of St Enoder Parish Council covers the period 19th July – 22nd September. It is as follows:

1.         Council meetings

I have attended a range of meetings over the last two months. These included: Cabinet (2), Environment, Heritage and Planning Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) (2) and three associated pre-agenda briefings/meetings, Economy and Culture PAC, Partnerships PAC, Strategic Planning Committee, Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, China Clay Community Network, a meeting of PAC Chairmen, and a briefing on the budget pressures for the unitary authority.

2.         Other meetings

I also attended meetings of the Leader / Community Led Local Development working group (2) and the new (shadow) South and East Cornwall Local Action Group (2). Locally, I have attended meetings of Summercourt School Governors, Indian Queens Pit Association and the Clay Country Training and Work Centre.

I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the implications of the Scottish independence referendum for the rest of the United Kingdom (12th August) – it was £10 a ticket – and I also took part in a Conference on social enterprise at Truro College (12th September), where I was one of the invited speakers.

3.         South and East Cornwall LAG

As noted above, I have been heavily involved with the setting up of four Local Action Groups in Cornwall, which will allocate EU funding to local business and groups. Much of the work has been undertaken by the Leader / Community Led Local Development working group, which I have continued to chair.

I can also confirm that I have been selected as one of Cornwall Council’s three representatives on the new South and East Cornwall Local Action Group, which will extend from the China Clay Area to the Tamar. This presently exists in a shadow form, but the LAG will be formalised later in the year, when central government confirms the contract, and associated funding allocation, for the LAGs.

4.         St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan

One of my main priorities for the last nine weeks has been the finalisation of the questionnaire for the St Enoder Neighbourhood Plan. I am very pleased that the document (complete with freepost envelope) has been delivered around the whole of the Parish, and that we held our first two consultation events at Summercourt (17th September) and Indian Queens (22nd September).

I would like to thanks all members of the Council who are serving on the working group and/or have helped to deliver the questionnaires (including the Clerk).

5.         Budget debates

The ruling Liberal Democrat and Independent Cabinet has produced a document which sets out how it might cut a further £196 million from its already shrunken financial base over the next four years, as a consequence of yet more cuts from central government.

The situation is extremely grim and many of the cuts are extremely unpalatable. These include the privatisation of services and the loss of 1,300 jobs, right down to all future consultations with Parish Councils (including planning) being via email.

These potential cuts are being considered by the Council’s various PACs and Members are being asked to either “support” the “proposed budget savings” or find “alternative savings proposals achieving as a minimum the same level of proposed savings …”

6.         Penare Pig Farm, Higher Fraddon and associated AD plant

Over the last two months, I have received an increasing number of complaints about the construction of the biogas plant and the works on the pig farm at Penare. These can be summarised below:

- Personal complaint to Greener for Life

First, I would report that I have written a letter of complaint to the owners and future operators of the biogas plant (Greener for Life) and their present contractors (FLI Energy). It addresses their failure to involve the Parish Council with its communication with local residents, as well as their failure to inform either the Parish Council, or myself as divisional member, about their decision to “dig up” the road through Higher Fraddon and down Fraddon Hill for a gas pipe.

It is my understanding that it was originally planned that the pipe would be laid across agricultural land but that final agreement was not reached with a local farmer. I was especially livid because Fraddon Hill had only been surface dressed in July and Cormac were about patch the road through Higher Fraddon.

My letter to Greener for Life was as follows:

I am writing to formally raise concerns about the failure of Greener for Life to keep St Enoder Parish Council, and myself as the divisional member on Cornwall Council, adequately informed about its construction phase of the biogas plant at Penare Farm.

You will recall that when the pre-commencement conditions for the development were discharged, in regard to Condition 4, it was agreed that:

“… the developers shall ensure that in regard to the arrangements for regular liaison with the local Parish that your engagement with the local residents of St Enoder Parish shall be in association / partnership with St Enoder Parish Council. Furthermore you should also supply to the Council your indicative timetable for works including anticipated timescales of construction for information purposes.”

It is a great disappointment to me that the above approach to community engagement did not materialise.

I would point out that you also failed to inform either the Parish Council, or myself, that you intended to dig up the Higher Fraddon road – at the time that I had Cormac lined up to patch the very same road.

You will recall that, on a previous visit to site, I informed both Greener for Life and FLI Energy that the road was due to undergo repair work, so that you would be aware of potential delays.

I was therefore extremely disappointed that you did not think to inform me of your works, which would inevitably lead the postponement of the patching works that we planned.

I would add that I am grateful to FLI Energy for acting on recent complaints I have brought to them about the construction works, but add that I hope that both Greener for Life and FLI Energy will strive to develop a more engaged relationship with the Parish Council.

- Various complaints about the construction of the AD plant

A number of local residents have brought concerns to me about the construction works, many of which have related to traffic. It should be noted that vehicle movements were controlled by a Construction Environmental Management Plan, which states:

HGV deliveries will be planned and increased deliveries will be consulted with local residents.

We expect on average 5-7 staff vehicle cars, in addition there will be deliveries and plant movement, and we will undertake a fortnightly plan which will highlight any busy days for deliveries. This can be made available for inspection on request. We will also liaise with local residents.

Total vehicle movements will be in the order of 10-12 daily, although there will be certain days where concrete pours will take place and the number of vehicles will be increased. Letter drops will be carried out if required. The same will apply for large deliveries of steel, tanks etc.

The maximum vehicle size will be artic, this will be less than 10 visits perhaps 2 per month.

We will take all necessary precautions to avoid peak flow, and school hours.

The submitted plan was approved after consultation with the Highways Agency and the Council’s Highways Development Management Officer. It would be normal for traffic to increase when key concrete pours are planned because they would need to get in sufficient concrete as and when necessary on certain days to ensure the concrete mass cures at the same time.

The Council also included the following in its sign off letter:-

No construction activities shall be undertaken except between 0800 and 1800 hours Mondays to Fridays and between 0800 and 1300 hours on Saturdays. There shall be no such activities on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

I met with David Madders from the contractors (FLI Energy) and Johan Lourens (Greener for Life), who will be responsible for the running of the plant once it is operational, on 8th September.

Many of the complaints were about the number of vehicles, the size of some vehicles, their speed, damage to people’s property (such as drives, walls, etc). Photographs were also supplied showing large vehicles struggling get around the corner at the top of Higher Fraddon. Others included the large amount of dust, a recent episode of machinery working on a Sunday, and the urgent need for a meeting with local residents.

Following this meeting, David Madders sent me an email which responded to a number of the concerns. Printed below are some of the responses:

I feel before commenting on individual concerns that your neighbours surrounding the site are made aware that FLI Energy are contracted to build just the Biogas site. The Pig Facility and the associated traffic/noise/dust/nuisance has nothing to do with this project whatsoever, any complaints surrounding those activities should be addressed to the farmer directly. Also the works bringing services to the site are being managed and paid for by Greener for Life and any concerns/comments regarding these activities should be addressed to GFL directly.

Dust – I acknowledge that the road up to and around the corner from site is particularly dusty during this dry spell and to mitigate things I have contracted a sweeper to spend 4 hours a day [in Higher Fraddon] twice a week until the end of the construction period (circa end of November). After this time any construction related vehicles will be delivering to the pig farm.

Speed of vehicles – I acknowledge the resident’s concerns regarding the speed of both delivery vehicles and workmen. I will speak to the workmen directly and have placed an order for the … signs. [Please note: the signs, which will request that vehicles driving to and from the site show care and keep below 20 mph, have already been erected.]

Hours of work – I apologise for any noise created on Sunday. I’ve investigated and found the culprit. We had a broken down crane on site and an over-exuberant fitter thought he’d fix it on a Sunday without permission. I’ve contacted all our contractors to remind them of our obligations. There will be no FLI presence on site at any time on Sundays.

Flies – From our site tour and discussions yesterday regarding this nuisance I think we are in agreement that the biogas construction is not the cause of this and it is the adjacent farming operations.

With regard to the photos of vehicles turning the corner, the first low loader vehicle was delivering/collecting from the farmer. The second is delivering a container to me. It should be noted that whilst the vehicle is large it is around the size the majority of vehicles that will be delivering waste and collecting waste from the plant once it is opened.

From our discussions yesterday, Greener for Life have confirmed that to minimise traffic movements they intend to utilise a clever vehicle which can deliver dry material waste to the plant and collect the waste digestate in the same truck meaning half the traffic movements.

The traffic movements of the Biogas plant be around 30 per week so aprox 6 large trucks a day plus whatever the pig farmer has totalling around 50 a week.

From our site tour yesterday I confirmed that most of our big deliveries of vessels and equipment have arrived. We had lane closures on the A30, 3 nights during the last two months to get things in without using [the Higher Fraddon road].

- Works on the Pig Farm

Following a previous visit to the biogas plant, I requested the contact for the owner of the actual pig farm, as it had become apparent to me that new piggeries were being constructed on site and that a planning application for the redevelopment of the site had neither been submitted nor consented. 

It took a while for the information to be provided and I was immediately contacted by employees from the site, who sought information about the issue. I informed them that the site did not have a valid planning permission for the works that were being undertaken. This information was forwarded to the owner of the site who actually lives in the Republic of Ireland.

I have since had it confirmed that he has hired a local planning consultancy firm to put in a part-retrospective planning application for the pig farm.

Cornwall Council is aware of the situation. I requested that a senior planning officer and the planning consultant consider how this problem is dealt with. I remain disappointed that this has not happened and I have sought further assurances that the Council and developer entering into a dialogue about how the situation is dealt with.

I have also spoken to workmen on the pig farm site and asked that their staff, and individuals making deliveries, also respect a voluntary 20 mph speed limit in the area.

- The planning permission and future vehicle movements

A number of residents have also raised queries with me about the number of vehicles that would be travelling to and from the pig farm and biogas plant, once construction works have ceased.

Members will recall that planning permission for the biogas plant was granted by the former County Council in 2009 (NR/08/00389/WSENV). I was not on the County Council and took no part in the discussions because of an ‘interest’ caused by my former employment with the Council as an archaeologist. However, my recollection is that the application was successful because it argued, through the planning process, that it would actually reduce traffic. It then had its implementation period extended in 2012 for another three years (PA12/01700). 

At the time of the 2009 application, and according to the planning report, “the existing pig farm” generated 74 “two-way” traffic movements each week, as follows:

5 x 44 tonne articulated lorries (pig feed delivery)
2 x 6 wheel rigid lorries (pig feed delivery)
6 x delivery vans (pig feed delivery)
3 x 6 wheel rigid lorries (livestock delivery)
8 x tractor and livestock trailer (livestock delivery)
15 x 10m3 vacuum tankers (removal of slurry)
5 x 10m3 vacuum tankers (removal of dirty water)
10 x tractor/tele handler (infer pig unit movements)
20 x cars (staff)

The 2009 consent conditioned that the number of vehicle movements for both the pig farm and biogas plant in the future would collectively be no more than 51 “two-way” traffic movements each week, as follows:-

4 x 44 tonne articulated lorries (pig feed delivery)
2 x 6 wheel rigid lorries (pig feed delivery)
6 x delivery vans (pig feed delivery)
3 x 6 wheeled rigid lorries (waste delivery)
6 x tractor and livestock trailer (waste delivery)
8 x 32 tonne rigid lorries (waste delivery)
1 x 44 tonne articulated tanker (waste delivery)
10 x 10m3 vacuum tankers (biofertiliser removal)
1 x 15m3 vacuum tankers (separated solids)
10 x cars (staff)

This was also specified in a planning condition (No 20) as below.

Once operational the number and types of vehicles visiting the site shall not exceed those set out in para 11.26 (pages 256/257 of Volume 1 of the Environmental Statement). The operators shall keep contemporaneous records of all vehicles visiting the site for a minimum period of two years and shall provide written details of such vehicle movements at the request of the LPA to show compliance with this condition.

In 2013, a “non-material amendment” was agreed between the developer and Cornwall Council. This was not presented to me as local member or to the Parish Council. It was to change some of the imported organic material feedstocks and the Odour Management Plan was updated accordingly to reflect the other changes.

The “traffic movement overview” was also modified to be as follows:

3 x 44 tonne articulated lorries (whey)
1 x tractor and trailer (straw manure)
6 x 32 tonne articulated lorries (broiler manure)
2 x 44 tonne articulated lorries (fish waste)
2 x 44 tonne articulated lorries (blood)
1 x 44 tonne articulated lorry (rumen fill)
1 x 32 tonne articulated lorry (food waste)
4 x 6-wheeled rigid lorries (food waste)
5 x tractor and trailers (maize silage)
5 x tractor and trailers (grass silage)
5 x tractor and trailers (beet)
5 x 44 tonne articulated lorries (feed deliveries)
6 x 6-wheeled rigid lorries (livestock deliveries)
3 x tractor and trailers (no description)
2 x private vehicles (staff movements)

The new traffic movements show an increase in the size of the some of the vehicles coming to the plant, and large reduction in the number of staff vehicles. The new figures concern me and contradict other things that I have told, such as how the transport of maize silage feedstock to Penare from Treravel Farm will be undertaken, and it is my intention to request that the “traffic movement overview” be revisited (see below).

- Treravel application

I also attended the Strategic Planning Committee for the discussion on the planning application (PA14/03475) at Treravel Farm for storage tanks for digestate from Penare Farm and clamps for maize silage to feed the biogas plant.

The following condition was agreed and I have been assured that I will be consulted when the Operational Traffic Management Plan is submitted.

Prior to any vehicle transporting silage from the approved storage facility at Treravel Farm to the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Plant at Penare Farm, Higher Fraddon [which had conditional planning permission (PA12/01700)] and/ or prior to any transfer of liquid or solid digestate from the aforementioned AD Plant to the approved storage facility at Treravel Farm, the applicants shall have submitted to and had approved in writing by the LPA, an Operational Traffic Management Plan (OTMP).

The OTMP shall include the following:-

- specification of approved route between the two sites (to be shown on a plan);
- details of sizes of vehicles;
- protocol in respect of advice to drivers to adhere to specified routes;
- control measures for drivers including appropriate disciplinary actions for non-adherence to the protocol;
- contingency measures should the approved route become temporarily unavailable.

The OTMP shall be implemented as approved for the duration of the approved development

As noted above, I question whether what is proposed in relation to Treravel Farm is in line with the “traffic movement overview” agreed as a “non-material amendment” in 2013. I will therefore be asking for a meeting in the near future with planners from Cornwall Council and Greener for Life to seek detailed information on traffic movements.

- Proposed new road?

At the Parish Council meeting in July, Mike Clarke and John Deane (Greener for Life) did a presentation seeking support for a potential access road to the biogas plant from the A30. As members will recall, we deferred discussion of the topic and requested further information about the issues and, in particular, correspondence with the relevant decision-making body (Highways Agency).

I have spoken to a range of people including the planning agent for the original permission and staff in the Council’s planning department, but they did not have any relevant paperwork about previous discussions.

I have requested further information from Mike Clarke and other staff at Greener for Life but have not yet received anything.

7.         Unauthorised development on land adjacent to the Kelliers

Early in September, it was brought to my attention that land immediately to the east of the Kelliers was being developed without planning permission. A previously overgrown field had been cleared, a wooden fence erected around the enclosure and hard-standing had been laid down for seven caravans. I was able to persuade the enforcement team to prioritise investigation of this site and they visited the area within 24 hours.

The landowner told enforcement officers that he intends to submit a planning application for a holiday caravan site, but if that is unacceptable he has stated that he would attempt to make it a site for gypsies and travellers. 

On the 17th September, the landowner cleared part of a bank of soil within the Kelliers and opposite his entrance, so that it would make it easier for the delivery of caravans. He did the works without consent from the landowner (Cornwall Council) and he was still on-site when I visited the Kelliers with the Clerk. There was a conversation during which I pointed out the unlawful nature of what he was doing.

The enforcement team from Cornwall Council are actively monitoring the situation and have given advice to the landowner that he should stop works, but it is clear that he is not following their advice. The enforcement team have also served a PCN (Planning Contravention Notice) on the landowner.

8.         Indian Queens School

In July, I reported how I had attended a public consultation at Indian Queens School concerning the plans for the additional classrooms at the site (16th July). The planning application was submitted on 28th July, and I was disappointed that the “traffic management plan” produced by consultants for the unitary authority did not take much notice of the worries of local residents concerning the existing problems with traffic and congestion.

I have continued to make representations to Cornwall Council about local resident’s concerns and will report back in more detail at the next Full Council meeting in October.

9.         20mph speed limit around the Drang and Suncrest Estate

I am pleased to be able to report that the recent consultation into a 20 mph speed limit on the roads around the Indian Queens Primary School received a positive response and the works will be happening in the future.

10.       Highways budget

In the previous Council, I had a personal budget for highways works within St Enoder Parish which totalled £24,000. Members may recall that I funded a number of small schemes and spent half of the allocation on streetlights in the Carworgie Way and Halloon Avenue estate.

In this Council (2013-2017), because of the cuts, I have no such pot of funding. The authority does however have a central allocation of money, extremely limited in scope, but to which members can bid for support. Members were given a deadline of mid August to put forward schemes for consideration and I have registered all proposals listed in the Parish Plan and which the Parish Council has discussed in recent years. These were as follows:

-  Entrance points into the main built-up areas of St Enoder Parish and other key locations. These include: Old A30 westbound into Indian Queens, old A30 eastbound into Fraddon, A39 southbound into St Columb Road, A39 northbound into St Columb Road, west-bound carriageway (Newquay Road) into St Columb Road, old A30 westbound into Summercourt near the primary school, A3058 northwards into St Austell Street, Summercourt, and A3058 southwards into Summercourt.

-  Measures relating to the expansion of Indian Queens Primary School and ongoing problems with traffic congestion / conflict with local neighbours (see School Travel Plan by Hyder Consulting). These include pedestrian crossings on St Francis Road and Chapel Road, parking restrictions near the School, new footpath links to Harvenna Heights estate (to be completed by Ocean Housing in 2016) to the west, and linking Halloon Avenue to the north, extension of footways on St Francis Road, introduction of crossing patrol(s), and widening of entrance into the Drang as suggested by local residents.

-  Traffic management measures to combat traffic congestion, parking problems and conflict between car drivers and local residents around the Co-op and along St Francis Road.

-  Pedestrian crossings at Summercourt crossroads.

-  20 mph speed limit by Summercourt Primary School, potentially linked to gateway features.

It should be noted that Cornwall Council has a long list of proposals for a 20 mph speed limits near schools – a small number of which are done each year. All schools have been assessed on a range of criteria, but any scheme for the area around Summercourt Primary School is still two-thirds of the way down the list. I have therefore formally requested that the criteria which underpins the list is reviewed and changed.

11.       Works on the local road network

At Parish Council meetings over the last six months, I have reported on a range of planned works on local roads.

I have had a number of complaints about the surface dressing along the old A30 between Fraddon and Indian Queens, including the amount of loose gravel that ended up on the pavements. I have made a number of representations to Cormac about this and there have been a number of attempts to tidy up / reduce the amount of loose gravel in the area. I am not satisfied with what has happened and I am continuing a dialogue with the relevant officers at Cornwall Council.

As noted previously, the patching of the road through Fraddon had to be postponed because contractors for the biogas plant are excavating the road for a gas pipe. I am in contact with Cornwall Council / Cormac to seek assurances that the patching will be carried out immediately after the pipe-laying has been completed.

A road ditch at Gaverigan, where there has been regular flooding of the local road, was also cleared by Cormac and I have asked them to revisit a similar road ditch at Higher Fraddon. The ditch in Higher Fraddon was cleared in July but the water does not appear to be draining away through the pipe which local residents say is there.

The following works continue to be planned for 2014-2015:

Burthy and Chytane - patching
Carnego Lane, Summercourt - patching & surface dressing
Carvynick, Summercourt - patching
Narrow Lane to St Enoder - patching & surface dressing
Newquay Road, St Columb Road - patching & surface dressing

I am also continuing to push for patching or further patching in the following areas:

Barton Lane, Fraddon
Trevarren village

12.       Drains in Fraddon

I have not yet had the opportunity to study the camera survey of the road drains throughout Fraddon was undertaken earlier this year. I will report back in more detail at the next Parish Council meeting.

13.       Loss of the Claybus

On 30th July, I attended the Cabinet meeting which agreed the unitary authority’s approach to mobile library and mobile one stop shop services.

Three options had been presented at previous meetings and the Cabinet agreed to “retain one mobile library van (visiting stops for twenty minutes only on a monthly basis), community/micro library support and expansion of Home Library Service.”

I unsuccessfully argued against the cuts which I said would be extremely damaging to the China Clay Area, because our communities do not have a permanent One Stop Shop or any static libraries.

The Cabinet duly sent out a press release with the positive message: “Council’s Cabinet votes to retain mobile library service in Cornwall.”

I prefer the interpretation of a colleague who pointed out: “Unfortunately, because of a typographical error, two words were missing from the [press release] headline. It should have read: ‘Council’s Cabinet votes to retain 12% of mobile library service in Cornwall’ … currently, the mobile library service makes 665 stops fortnightly. In future, it will make 172 stops monthly … hopefully, we will not make the same error in future press releases when we cut services by over 80%.”

The decision means that the Claybus will cease to operate within a matter of months, though the one surviving mobile library van, for the whole of Cornwall, will call at stops in St Enoder Parish.

14.       Planning matters – traveller site at Toldish

At the Parish Council meeting in July, we discussed the decision of an “out-of-Cornwall” planning inspector to overturn the decision of Cornwall Council to refuse permission for two traveller pitches near Toldish.  

Following the meeting, I wrote to the Planning Service and requested that they challenge the ruling. They declined to take this course of action and the response from Nigel Doyle was as follows:

I have carefully read the appeal decision letter.  I regret that I consider the prospects of a successful challenge to the decision to be poor. Challenges can only proceed on public law grounds and these are narrow.  These narrow grounds do not provide an opportunity to rerun arguments on the planning merits of the case.

The Council must have recognised that this would be a difficult appeal to win given the case officer’s recommendation, and the Inspector’s analysis and overall conclusions seem to me to provide no basis for an arguable public law challenge. While individuals may disagree with the Inspector’s conclusion it seems to me that this conclusion was lawfully open to him on the evidence. He has balanced the issues and come to a clear decision that is in no way perverse.     

15.       Planning matters – Central Sub-Area Planning Committee
            (4th August)

The developments (PA14/00882): residential development for 20 dwellings on land west of Kilburn, Fraddon and (PA14/00652): use of land for the stationing of 44 holiday lodges in place of 46 motor home touring pitches at Carvynick, were presented to this meeting. Both were recommended for approval. I attended and spoke at the meeting, along with the Chairman of St Enoder Parish Council, who set out local objections to the proposals.

The application for Carvynick was deferred because of uncertainty about the layout plan and concerns as to whether it was possible to position 44 separate units within the site. The meeting voted to “request the applicant to submit a scaled drawing indicating the size, layout and spacing of the proposed holiday lodges.”

I understand that the applicant has not provided a plan as requested and the application has been place on the agenda of the next meeting of the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee, which will take place on the 29th September.

In my last July report, I set out the range of concerns, which I share with the Parish Council, about the application for housing on land to the west of Kilburn. At the planning meeting, I strongly – and repeatedly – argued against the application and I was very disappointed when the application was granted by eight votes to six. The members of the Planning Committee did however agree that the indicative plan was “not acceptable for the following reasons: inadequate space standards for the affordable housing, inequitable division of land take between the open market and affordable housing, disparity between size of the affordable and open market housing units, and lack of pepper potting of the affordable housing units.”

16.       Planning matters – Gaverigan Manor Farm wind turbine

The application for a wind turbine on Gaverigan Manor Farm has been recommended for approval by planning officers. Enoder Parish Council objected to the proposal and I have referred it to the Central Sub-Area Planning Committee. It has been placed on the agenda of the next meeting, which will take place on 29th September.

I have given guidance to both the applicants and the nearest objectors, and I requested that members of the Planning Committee visit the site in advance of the meeting. The site visit took place on the 22nd September and I attended, along with six members of the Committee.

17.       Parish Council business

I have also assisted the Clerk and other Parish Councillors on a range of issues and it was wonderful to be able to attend the opening of the new Youth Club building, by Cllr Bunyan, on Sunday 17th August.

18.       Inquiries

Throughout the last month, I have also helped numerous people and local organisations with advice and guidance on a wide range of issues.

1 comment:

Jackie S said...

Shocked and horrified at the horrendous stink coming from the piggery since midday today 27/10/14 Nobody should have to live with this smell we can't open our windows and we feel replused when we go outside