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9 March 2018

This page of the Acton Bridge website discusses the developments at Town Farm Quarry, Crowton, with material from the "Stop the Tip" campaign to oppose thousands of HGV movements through Acton Bridge and our neighbouring villages.

After many months of meetings and preparation, and against all expectations, we carried the day in Chester this afternoon, with a unanimous decision by the Cheshire West and Chester Council Planning Committee to throw out all but one of the Variations to Conditions which had formed the Town Farm Quarry Application. The remaining one is to Condition 5, which allows a modest time extension for sand extraction, and I think it was generally felt that refusing this would be harder to justify. Variations to conditions which would have allowed the importation of vast additional quantities of restoration material were flatly refused by the Members - quoting my own expression, "enough is enough". All credit to Chris Pownall from Kingsley, Phil Edwards from Crowton, and our own Cllr Fifield, and Karen Lea-Swain, too, for her very helpful contributions and suggestions, and support today. The Committee's site visit yesterday showed that the "restoration material" over which they were walking included what was clearly a great deal of builders' waste, another useful factor in their decision.

There are two important caveats - the Applicant is likely to go to Appeal; and we are concerned that a little off-microphone conference between Fiona Hore and Rob Charnley, after the speeches but before the vote was taken, may result in a Decision Notice which is not as robust as we (or the Members) would like. Mr Charnley pointed out that the published Decision will actually be for Approval - though of Condition 5 only - so we need to be on our guard! The Minutes will be published shortly, and no doubt Phil Edwards will be looking at them very closely.

You can view the CWAC Webcast here (though the sound is a bit jerky) - the TFQ section 5 "17/00575/S73 - Variation of conditions" starts about 33 minutes in; and don't forget to turn the sound up on your device.

CWAC failed in its attempt to limit the operating time when it lost the Appeal (see below) and the new variations, if granted, would allow the operators to continue extracting sand for sale and importing material for "restoration" for years to come, resulting of course in many more HGV movements. The Agenda, with links to the (very long) planning documents can be seen here.

Members of your Parish Council and other Parishioners will be present at the Committee, of course, but sadly the Planning Officer has recommended granting permission for the prolonged activity, which is why Cllr Fifield has "called it in" to Committee. By all means come to Monday's Parish Council (5. March at 7:30pm in the Parish Rooms) if you want to learn more.

Renewed concern has been expressed about the number of Heavy Goods Vehicle movements through the villages of Acton Bridge, Crowton and Kingsley (and indeed about the behaviour of some HGV drivers with respect to the speed limits and general road manners, though these are not strictly Planning matters). The terms of operation of the Quarry are now governed by the outcome of the Planning Inquiry, which was held on 11 November 2015 by Mr JP Sargent BA(Hons) MA MRTPI, an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to consider two Appeals by Mr John Starkey of The Starkey Family Trust against Cheshire West & Chester Council. Among many other conditions, Mr Sargent's Appeal Decisions of 25. February 2016 placed limits on HGV movements, which have helpfully been summarised for us by Phil Edwards of the "Stop the Tip" campaign, as follows:

Schedule 3: Conditions to be imposed on Appeal A [extract - Appeal B similar]

10. Operations authorised by this permission, (other than plant maintenance), including heavy goods vehicles entering and leaving the site, shall be restricted to the following period:-
07.30-18.00 Monday to Friday
07.30-12.30 Saturday
Maintenance of plant and vehicles required in the operations of the site shall be restricted to the following periods only:-
07.30-19.00 Monday to Saturday
No such operations shall take place outside these hours or on Sundays or Bank or Public Holidays, without the prior written approval of the Mineral Planning Authority.
REASON: To minimise the environmental impact of the development, to safeguard the amenities of the area and to comply with Policies 9 and 12 of the Cheshire Replacement Minerals Local Plan 1999.
25. Heavy Goods Vehicles entering or leaving the site shall not exceed an average of 120 vehicles a day at the site (i.e. 60 in and 60 out) for a 5.5 day working week when measured over one calendar month.
26. A maximum of 140 (i.e. 70 in and 70 out) Heavy Goods Vehicles may enter or leave the site on any one working day. This figure shall be reduced to 70 (i.e. 35 in and 35 out) on a Saturday.
27. A record shall be kept by the operator of the number of heavy goods vehicles which enter and leave the site every working day and a copy of these records shall be forwarded to the Mineral Planning Authority every three months during the operational life of the site.
REASON FOR CONDITIONS 25,26 & 27: In the interest of residential and visual amenity and to comply with and Policies 9 and 12 of the Cheshire Replacement Minerals Local Plan 1999.

A full copy of the Appeal Decisions APP/A0665/A/14/2225451, APP/A0665/A/14/2225452 can be downloaded from here (as a 37-page PDF). [End]

A meeting was held in Acton Bridge Parish Rooms on 25. March 2015, attended by about 50 residents. Please call back to this page for more information as it becomes available, or use the e-mail address on the poster for direct contact.

Please note that views expressed here are not necessarily those of Acton Bridge Parish Council.


Stop the TIP!

A residents' group set up in March 2015 to oppose recent proposals to carry out major restoration work and to exploit new areas of sand excavation at the former quarry at Town Farm, Norley. If approved this will result in thousands of tipper trucks movements though the villages of Acton Bridge, Kingsley, Crowton and Weaverham.


Update from "Stop the Tip" by e-mail on 19. October 2015:

"Hello Everyone, the hearing to decide the two planning appeals will take place on Wednesday 11th November 2015 at Wyvern House, The Drumber, Winsford, CW7 1AH. Residents who wish to attend the hearing should arrive by 9.30 am at the latest. Even if you do not intend to speak at the hearing It would be extremely helpful if you could attend to demonstrate the strength of opposition to the applicant's proposals.

Alan and Phil

Update from "Stop the Tip" by e-mail on 6. October 2015:
Afternoon revision - "We have been advised today that the hearing of the Quarry appeals on October 13th has been postponed. This is because interested parties have not been notified within the minimum time period.
The new hearing date is expected to be in early to mid November. As soon as we have updates we will be in touch." 

It seems that as a result of the number of representations made by us the Planning Inspector has decided that the two appeals will be decided after a

local hearing and not simply by written representations alone. This is excellent news. Residents will have the ability to make personal representations at the hearing.

A meeting was held at Acton Bridge Parish Rooms at 7.30 on Wednesday 30th September to decide how we could best use the hearing to raise our objections to the points made in the rebuttal statement, the existence of which only came to light when it was referred to in a recent submission made by the applicants.

The Hearing had been due to take place on Tuesday 13th October 2015 at Wyvern House, The Drumber, Winsford, CW7 1A. Residents who wish to attend the entire hearing should arrive by 9.30 am at the latest, though you can join in later. It is expected that the formal hearing at Winsford will last all day, but even if you can only attend for a part of the day it would be an important indication of the strength of local opinion.

The efforts that you have all made in the past in sending in representations is, we are sure, the reason that the inspector has decided to hold a local hearing rather than to decide the appeals by written representations only. It is very important that having gained the advantage of a local hearing that we use it to the full to progress our campaign. The decisions made as a result of matters discussed at the hearing will have a profound effect on the quality of life for many of us for the next five years at least and possibly longer.

Please do your utmost to attend the rescheduled hearing. A good turnout will show the inspector the depth of feeling there is about the applicants proposals and it is our one chance to question the applicants and CWAC. Even if you do not want to speak your presence will indicate the strength of local opposition to what is being proposed.

Further down the page, there's a new article on Northwich Guardian, updated Guidance Notes from the StT Campaign, and link to Planning Inspectorate portal for uploading representations


Another almost-full-page article appeared on Page 4 of the Northwich Guardian on 15. April (pictures below).


As expected, there were representations from the Stop the Tip campaign at the Acton Bridge Parish Council Meeting on Tuesday 7. April. Here are a couple of photos (more visitors arrived after these were taken, making about 20 in all), and the Northwich Guardian of Wednesday 8. April carried an article about the campaign on Page 9.


[Earlier] Advice received from the "Stop the Tip" Campaign:

1. Continue with your representations.
Remember make them specific to the Quarry and its vehicles. The impact they will have on you, your family, friends, neighbours, or anyone else who visits or uses the local area/amenities. We are appealing to a faceless body in Bristol who knows nothing about us, our lifestyles or our villages. Personalise your representations where possible - bring our issues to life with pictures! The more empathy we can evoke the stronger the argument. We will send some standard information for you to use over the weekend. Do not send them to PINS just yet. We would like to wait to see if we can see CWAC's documents in case there is anything we need to pick up on.

2. Council Accountability.
Cheshire West Council has behaved appallingly with regards to the 2 applications in question - if they had done their job effectively we would not be in this position. We need more time to tackle the appeals put forward. Typically the Quarry have strong support behind them, not infallible but strong. We need to 'persuade' the council to step up to their responsibilities and obtain more time for us from the Planning Inspectorate.

3. Spread the word.
The more mails / letters they receive the greater the impact. 1 person is a crank! 5 people are friends of said crank! 100 people have got a point!! Anyone who walks/drives/rides/shops/lives or visits this area will be impacted upon. Get them to put forward a representation.

Click on these links to download a copy of the meeting briefing notes and an e-mail thread, and guidance notes for writing to the Planning Inspectorate.

Here are links to the Cheshire West & Chester Council Planning Portal, showing the two appeals in progress against the "Withdrawn" applications...

Mr John Starkey (The Starkey Family Trust) v. Cheshire West and Chester Council Reference 14/01676/S73 Planning application to vary conditions 1, 3 and 5 of permission ref: 11/00816/S73 to allow for extraction of remaining permitted mineral reserves and amend restoration levels accordingly

Mr John Starkey (The Starkey Family Trust) v. Cheshire West and Chester Council Reference 14/01677/S73 Section 73 planning application to vary conditions 1, 6, 7, 57 and 63 of permission ref: 11/00816/S73 to allow further time importation of material to complete restoration

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