Local residents and parents, and children of the European School, demonstrated outside the Wantage Civic Hall to show the strength of opposition to the proposed incinerator.
After submitting 4 separate petitions to the full VOWHDC (from Sutton Courtenay, Appleford and Abingdon, plus an online petition), and a very detailed, worrying, medical petition, SCAI took the opportunity to put key questions to the Vale councilors, to which Cllr De Vere responded:
Parish Councillor Donald Alcorn of Appleford Parish Council:
Q. Does the Vale consider that the use of land, classified as Flood Zone 2, is suitable for disposal of hazardous waste?
A. A small part of the application site falls within Flood Zone 2, although the northern part of the application site is situated adjacent to this designation. This Council and County Council would look to the Environment Agency to advise on whether or not the land identified for the disposal of hazardous waste is suitable for this purpose.
Mr David McKenzie on behalf of Dr Su Braden, resident of Sutton Courtenay:
What is the Vale’s view on the likely impact of Waste Recycling Group’s proposal on the integrity of the Sutton Courtenay Conservation Area and the … three Grade I, six Grade II* and 53 Grade II buildings in the village? These, together with the graves of George Orwell and Asquith located with the churchyard, attract numerous visitors from both the UK and overseas.
The proposed incinerator building would be located approximately 1.5 kilometres from The Abbey and approximately 1.3 kilometres from the nearest part of the Sutton Courtenay Conservation Area. Despite the size and scale of the proposed incinerator building, the distance between the two is such that, whilst it may be visible, the incinerator is unlikely to have a harmful impact on the immediate setting of the conservation area or the listed buildings within the village. There is also a potential impact as a result of the development from increased traffic through Sutton Courtenay. The transport assessment submitted with the application states that there would be a small (less than 10%) increase in traffic to the local highway network as a result of the proposal, however there should be no increase in the number of HGV’s travelling through the village. On the condition that traffic numbers and routes are strictly controlled by legal and routing agreements with the County Council, the impact of traffic on the Sutton Courtenay Conservation Area should not be harmful.
Parish Councillor Michael Jenkins of Sutton Courtenay Parish Council:
There are a number of serious flaws in Waste Recycling Group’s submission regarding the proposal for a waste incinerator at the Sutton Courtenay landfill site. It is noted that there will be no independent technical assessment made. What steps can the Council take to ensure that these shortcomings are addressed and the residents of Oxfordshire and particularly the Vale are protected?
A. As the determining authority, it is for the County Council to decide whether or not it requires an independent technical assessment of the Incinerator application. It is therefore recommended that any perceived shortcomings in the application are drawn to the attention of Officers at the County Council.
Mr Callum MacKenzie, long term resident of Sutton Courtenay:
Q. There is no reference to Policy NE11 in the committee report.
Policy NE11 “confirms the Council’s determination to seek and promote the enhancement of those parts of the local landscape which have become damaged or compromised”.
The VOWHDC Planning Advisory Notes, are also not mentioned in the committee report, this is surprising as “the District Council at their meeting held on 22nd March 2006 resolved to continue to use these advisory notes for development control purposes from … the date the Local Plan to 2011 was adopted.”
The Planning Advisory Note on p9 and p10 highlights: “the adverse impact of the (soon to be demolished) Didcot A power station” and states, unequivocally, that this part of the Vale “is in particular need of enhancement”.
The proposed waste incinerator site is included in an “area defined for landscape enhancement” on the proposal map, and this should be applied to the application.
The waste incinerator application clearly contravenes Policy NE11 because Officers have stated in the Committee report that the development “will have an adverse effect on the local landscape”.
The waste incinerator proposal would therefore “further erode or damage the character of the landscape”.
Will the Vale Council apply their own Policy NE11 to the waste incinerator proposal, which says that such proposals “will not be permitted”
A. Paragraph 3.7 of the officer’s report to Committee does make reference to the Local Plan policy regarding Areas of Landscape Enhancement but erroneously refers to it as Policy DC11 rather than NE11. Mention is also made of this designation in paragraph 5.11 of the report and the Officer’s conclusions in paragraph 5.12 clearly state their view that the proposed development is contrary to these Local Plan landscape policies.
The Planning Advisory Notes (PANs) referred to in the question predate the currently adopted Local Plan and have not been the subject of any formal public consultation. As a result, they do not carry as much weight as the adopted Local Plan policies and other up to date Development Plan policies. It is not considered that the reference that these notes make to Zone 2C – The Eastern Clay Vale and Rover Landscape – adds anything more to the policies Local Plan NE9 and NE11.
For information the paragraph which refers to Zone 2C reads:
“East of the A34 a thicker layer of gravel overlays the clay; this can be seen from the gravel workings south of Abingdon and near Sutton Courtenay. The riverline landscape of the Thames passes through this area. There are a number of detracting features, such as the Didcot Power Station. The impact on the A34 is felt. This part of the Vale is in particular need of enhancement, through tree planting, hedgerow planting and the introduction of small woodland belts. Particular scope for improvement has been identified around Didcot Power Station, Sutton Courtenay and Appleford. In these areas, there is scope to screen detractors, and frame attractive views.”