20 February 2008
Caroline Tapster, Chief Executive,
Hertfordshire County Council,
County Hall, Pegs Lane,
Hertford SG13 8DE.
20 February 2008
Dear Ms Tapster,
This is my response to the Hertfordshire County Council Waste Development Framework Consultation on Waste Development Plan documents. I am also copying my correspondence to John Wood at the County Development Unit and to County Councillor Derrick Ashley and would be grateful if you could ensure that my response reaches to relevant officials prior to 10 March.
Waste Core Strategy Submission
I am particularly supportive of the emphasis placed upon waste reduction, reuse and recycling in the Vision for Waste Management, and the recognition that waste disposal to landfill should be minimised. We need to reduce our reliance on landfill and incineration, both of which have a significant negative impact on the landscape and environment. The most effective way to address the growing waste mountain is to stop the waste being produced in the first place.
Whilst I appreciate the rationale for locating waste management facilities as close as practicable to the Key Centres for Development and Change, I am concerned about the potential implications for nearby towns that are not themselves Key Centres. For example, the proximity of Stevenage to Letchworth Garden City means that the implications of waste management facilities for the former upon the latter must be carefully considered. Letchworth Garden City was, after all, the world’s first Garden City which people come from all over the world to see.
A previous attempt to site an incinerator in the Green Belt close to Letchworth led to a massive local campaign, which was successful in halting the plans.
Regarding the objectives set out in the Core Strategy Submission Document, promoting the provision of facilities which drive waste management further up the waste hierarchy is to be supported. Reduction sits at the top of the waste management hierarchy and, as noted above, reducing the amount of waste produced is crucial.
I am also particularly pleased that Objective 9 recognises the importance of minimising the impact of waste management development on both the natural and built environment, since Hertfordshire possesses splendid examples of both types of environment. My own Parliamentary Constituency, North East Hertfordshire, is an important area of countryside with numerous attractive villages such as Ashwell, Standon and Puckeridge. It also boasts historical markets towns including Baldock, Royston and Buntingford, in addition to the planning jewel of Letchworth Garden City.
Waste Development Policies Preferred Options
I am concerned that proposed policy WDP 2, which is linked to strategic objective 9 in the Waste Core Strategy document, does not place sufficient emphasis on the need to avoid adverse impacts to Hertfordshire’s man-made assets. Whilst the proposed policy emphasises the importance of avoiding, minimising or adequately compensating for impacts relating to “Hertfordshire’s important environmental assets”, the importance of man-made assets, such as Letchworth Garden City, is not made explicit.
Waste Site Allocations Preferred Options
I am concerned about the Waste Site Allocation in Letchworth (map number 060). In addition to there being no vacant land nor obvious opportunities for waste development, I would like to point out the housing nearby. I wish to stress that Letchworth Garden City is a planning jewel which people come from all over the world to see. Preserving Letchworth as a key Hertfordshire asset should preclude any further consideration of the site for waste use. It would also breach Garden City principles by which land was allocated for particular purposes.
The finding that Royston Road, Baldock (map number 064) has the “potential for an enclosed waste management facility” is also worrying. Baldock is an attractive market town of historical significance; as an important man-made asset it should be protected. This site is very prominent as you enter Baldock on the old A505 and would be the first thing you come to. It is also close to housing on the south side.
I am also concerned by the possible implications of designating the site at Bondor Business Centre, Baldock (map number 074) as Employment land as described in WCS Policy 3. The policy states that sites will be considered sequentially with industrial or employment sites given first consideration. Again, I must stress that the Bondor Business Centre, whilst industrial land, must be seen in the context of Baldock’s status as an attractive market town and is right next to housing.
Likewise, concerns arise from the designation of Baldock Road, Royston (map number 062) as Employment land. Royston is another of Hertfordshire’s historic market towns whose character we must do our utmost to protect. The site referred to is in the line of sight from Therfield Heath looking across the Cambridge plain. When Royston Football Club tried to relocate to a site in this area, the planning inspector refused permission on the basis of visual intrusion. It is also close to a site designated for future hotel use.
I believe that there have been difficulties with the Wood pallet shredding plant in Furneux Pelham and will contact the parish and district councils for further information.
Oliver Heald MP
ccs: John Wood, County Development Unit &
County Councillor Derrick Ashley