Proposed Smallford quarry site was earmarked for country park, say campaigners

Site of proposed quarry

Site of proposed quarry - Credit: Archant

A site earmarked for a huge quarry on the doorstep of St Albans was promised as a new country park and not for sand and gravel extraction according to opponents of the scheme.

A spokesman for Smallford Residents Association highlighted the fact that the 87-hectare Ellenbrook Field alongside the village was identified in 2011 as a site for the public to enjoy with parkland, footpaths, woodland and cattle grazing.

It was to have been handed over by the Goodman Group, which built the Hatfield Business Park, to the Ellenbrook Park Preservation Trust to take a key role in its function, role and future.

But the trust was never set up and now a proposal has been submitted by Brett Aggregates for the site, bordered to the west by Oaklands Lane in Smallford, to become a quarry which will be worked for 32 years.

The proposal has been greeted with dismay by local residents, concerned about the number of lorries going in and out on a daily basis, greater traffic congestion, noise and pollution.

Many only learned about the scheme shortly before a public exhibition of the proposals and have since been told that the land was consulted upon as part of the Herts county council’s Minerals Plan which identifies suitable sites for quarrying.

The spokesman for Smallford Residents Association said: “It is improper that the Brett Aggregates submission does not highlight that this land was intended as green space initially for the benefit of residents of St Albans and Hatfield as many are unaware of the loss of their recreational site as they have not been involved in any consultation process.

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“It provides a rich wildlife base and has been used by the Mid Herts local group of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trusts who have used it to observe barn owls.

“It is also used by the St Albans local group of the RSPB with sightings including red kite, sparrowhawks, kestral, skylarks, woodpeckers and whitethroat, treecreeper and amandarin.”

He pointed out that the land also served as a boundary with the St Albans district which effectively ran vertically through the half way point of the site. As part of the Green Belt, it played a key part in preventing urban sprawl.

The spokesman called for a full inquiry to be undertaken into why the Ellenbrook Park Preservation Trust - which was to have included representatives of St Albans district and Colney Heath parish councils - had not been set up and whether Goodman or any other company had benefitted from the failure of its formation.