St Albans family fears waste threat

Cemex quarry

Cemex quarry - Credit: Archant

A one-million-tonne mountain of soil and waste material could be dumped metres from a St Albans cottage, prompting fears that a local family’s quality of life will be “decimated”.

The Cemex quarry, Oaklands Lane in Smallford, has asked Herts county council for approval to truck in 1.2 million tonnes of soil, clays, brick and concrete fragments.

It also wants to build a new temporary haulage road from Beech Farm, Coopers Green Lane, to allow it to transport soil to the site at a rate of 175,000 tonnes annually over a period of seven years to fill in and restore a quarried area.

Cemex, located near sports fields, plant nurseries, businesses and Oaklands College’s Smallford campus, is a major provider of crushed rock, sand and gravel for the construction industry.

The firm’s application has raised concern among countryside and wildlife campaigners who fear the proposed infilling will dramatically reduce an area of wetland, which provides habitat for a wide range of birds.

It has also angered neighbouring resident Roger Beadle, who lives at Coopers Green Cottage on Coopers Green Lane, bordering the Cemex site, and objects to the scheme.

When he bought his property six years ago he was assured “verbally by Cemex they had no intention to ever disturb, convert or modify land near my home”.

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Roger added: “Putting some 1.2 million tonnes of soil and waste starting within 10 metres of the boundary of my home will destroy not only [its] value but decimate the quality of life for myself and children who enjoy the gardens.”

He also asked the council how local roads, including nearby Sandpit Lane and Hatfield Road, would cope with additional trucks as Cemex hoped to increase HGV movements to 300 – 150 in and 150 out – a day.

Roger is also concerned about dust drifting to his home from transported waste material.

Despite assertions from Cemex that it will take measures to contain loose material Roger is worried that if lorries are running late “dust will not be given a thought”.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in Herts wants the scheme rejected, adding that the “substantial” volume of infill material would “significantly change the site’s ecological balance”.

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust said the scheme involved infilling a lagoon, which would then be restored to woodland and grassland.

But the site is used by about 40 species of birds, eight of which are of “conservation interest,” and great crested newts breed in several nearby ponds.

The trust said it was concerned the infilling would result in a reduced amount of open water and habitat.

St Albans district councillor for Colney Heath Chris Brazier said: “I think it is totally wrong. Residents are very concerned about it.”

In its application, Cemex said that 1.2 million tonnes of waste material would be placed to the north of its quarry site, near its Coopers Green Lane boundary, in the “Cut Field Lagoon” and this would be re-contoured to restore the area.

Its scheme includes relocating great crested newts.

The council is considering the application.