Anger in St Albans as Green Belt plundering for gravel and sand gets district council support
- Credit: Image supplied by Cemex
There has been a further blow to residents who have again found themselves at the sharp end of a quarrying company seeking to hack into Green Belt land to extract sand and gravel.
St Albans-based firm, Cemex, has asked Herts county council for approval to expand its operations further into the Green Belt, to dig up an additional 450,000 tonnes over three years.
Cemex wants to transport excavated material via a network of linked conveyor belts to its quarry plant complex in Smallford, from Furze Field, off Coopers Green Lane, near Sandridge’s fringes.
While it is up to the county council to consider the contentious request, as it is a minerals application, the authority asked St Albans district council (SADC) for its opinion, as a consultee.
On Monday (30), SADC’s planning committee heard an impassioned plea from Cllr Peter Cook, chairman of Colney Heath parish council, for councillors to object to the Cemex extension.
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He said it was the latest in a string of developments hitting local residents in a small rural area, including the nearby University of Hertfordshire campus and Oaklands College’s proposed housing scheme at Smallford.
The council was warned about the “huge adverse impact” of increased lorry movements on already busy roads, in terms of safety, noise, pollution and congestion.
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District councillor for Colney Heath, Chris Brazier, urged fellow councillors to make the county council aware of residents’ concerns.
He asked why so much land had to be dug up in the Green Belt, given the recently-approved Brett Aggregates extension, to remove a mammoth eight million tonnes of minerals, from the former Hatfield Aerodrome site close to Smallford.
Cllr Brazier said that with hundreds of acres of land ‘to be defaced’ the county council should consider the effects on wildlife and the ‘detrimental’ impact on Smallford residents before approving the plan.
He added: “Have they considered in Colney Heath [parish] there are three quarry sites, if you include Tarmac? Can we support that in one area? To say we have no objections is bad for our residents.”
A council officer told him that under the government’s planning rules, mineral extraction was considered appropriate development in the Green Belt, “so doesn’t require special circumstances”.
Councillors agreed to tell their county counterparts that while there was no objection to the Cemex bid, there were concerns about the impact upon the environment and ecology as a result of the extended workings. Also, the current rights of way might be affected, and a new bridleway should be dedicated.
• Although another newspaper has this week confused two quarry extension schemes – one for Brett Aggregates, also in this district, with the Cemex one, in Oaklands Lane – it is the latter which was discussed by SADC’s planning committee on Monday. SADC does not have the power to approve a minerals scheme; that is under the jurisdiction of Herts council.
• While the county council has yet to consider the Cemex extension, the Brett Aggregates scheme, to plough up eight million tonnes of sand and gravel, at the former Hatfield Aerodrome site, was given the nod last week.