St Albans council give blessing to controversial quarrying scheme

The proposed quarry site on Ellenbrook Fields

The proposed quarry site on Ellenbrook Fields - Credit: Archant

A warning about the future of land on which a controversial quarrying scheme is proposed came from a concerned councillor as a decision was made not to object to it.

Brett Aggregates’ scheme for a new quarry on the former Hatfield Aerodrome site, which abuts Smallford and Sleapshyde, will be decided by the county council.

But St Albans district council was asked for its comments on a proposal which has horrified local residents - and decided they had no objection to it.

At the end of 32 years of quarrying on the 87-hectare site where lorries are expected to go in and out approximately every three minutes, the land is due to be handed over to the Ellenbrook Trust to be restored as a country park.

But Cllr David Yates reminded St Albans planning referrals committee about what had happened after quarrying finished on another site - Radlett Airfield. He said: “I would like reassurance that we are going to end up with a country park not a rail freight terminal.”

Calling for the conditions attached to any planning permission for the site to be restored to be tightened up, he described them as currently ‘fairly toothless’ and added: “Having been once savaged, I am twice shy.”

The committee took the view that as the site was incorporated in the county council’s Minerals Plan, they would be better placed to improve the situation by not raising objections but recommending conditions that would safeguard the site for nearby residents as far as possible.

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A number of fears were raised at the committee including the frequency of lorries using a new access road on to Hatfield Road with Cllr Lynn Bolton pointing out the amount of heavy traffic which would be using a narrow two way road.

Local residents fear there will also be increased lorry movements on local roads during peak periods and they will suffer noise as well as dust and light pollution. One member of Smallford Residents Association described the scheme as “the greatest and scariest planning application, not just for Smallford but for St Albans and nearby Hatfield.”

The site is currently open space, much used by dog walkers and with a wealth of wildlife.

After the meeting, ward councillor Chris Brazier said he had no doubt that the county council would approve the scheme but urged them to take on board the fact that the Colney Heath/Smallford area was ‘swamped with mineral extraction’.

He added: “I object to all our eggs being put in one basket. The majority of quarrying in Herts is in this area.”