Plans to dump waste on Ingrebourne Hill reviewed during appeal
PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 December 2015 | UPDATED: 15:13 18 December 2015
Controversial plans to dump “inert” waste on Rainham’s Ingrebourne Hill will destroy the area’s biodiversity and give way to a lorry every three minutes, a public enquiry heard yesterday.
The Ingrebourne Hill site
The Ingrebourne Hill site was sold by Havering Council to Ingrebourne Valley Ltd, a company which reclaims and restores disused and derelict land, in November 2011, and is managed in partnership with the Forestry Commission.
In 2011, a Havering Cabinet report which was made confidential, recommended to approve the plans but in 2014, the newly elected council rejected the application.
The four year plan was described by Ingrebourne Valley Ltd as a “package”, which would include the restoration of the site and its management by the Forestry Commission, which would plant trees to provide “a managed woodland area”.
About 550,000 cubic metres of construction material from tunneling work would be tipped on the marshland to create a link to Hornchurch Country Park.
The site is adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and according to Ray Randall, Vice Chair of the Friends of Ingrebourne Valley and Hornchurch Country Park, it is also home to badgers, grass snakes, slow worms and great crested newts, which are protected by the UK Biodiveristy Action Plan.
Plans to merge Ingrebourne Hill with Hornchurch Country Park, using construction material by re-designing the landscape of the green belt, were debated at Romford Town Hall after the applicant Ingrebourne Valley Ltd appealed Havering Council’s decision to reject the planning application last year.
About 20 protesters opposing the plans gathered in front of the town hall before the appeal started.
Inspector Stuart Nixon told the appellant figures in their application “just don’t stack up”, leaving “uncertainties” on the nature of the plans.
Putting forward its case, the company described the rubble which would be tipped onto Ingrebourne Hill as “indigenous” and “not classified as waste”.
Douglas Symes, planning consultant for Ingrebourne Valley, told the inspector about 80per cent of the soil was already construction material.
But South Hornchurch Cllr Michael Deon-Burton said: “I am unaware of any incidents where the dumping of waste improved the quality of life of residents and the area around it.”
He described the plans as “a factory facility”, which he argued had never been fully set out in the application.
Two important points of debate concerned the traffic and the ecological value of the site.
Mr Symes argued the site had “suffered degradation through time” and it would “benefit” from the company’s proposed restoration.
But Ian Pirie, coordinator at Havering Friends of the Earth, explained there was a “mystical belief” planting trees increased biodiversity and said the open grass land was an important habitat for invertebrates.
Rosina Purnell, from Havering Friends of the Earth, told the Recorder the proceedings had been “shambolic”.
“They are destroying a beautiful national park. This is ecological vandalism,” she said.
While Ingrebourne Valley Ltd argued 200 lorries would come to and from the site daily, representing 1pc of the total traffic volume in the area, Rainham Cllr David Durant argued this would imply “a lorry every three minutes”.
He added these were “impossible figures” because they implied 20,000 vehicles passed the site in a day, which would make the road “impassable”.
South Hornchurch Cllr Graham Williamson told the enquiry the addition of new developments in the southern part of the borough “had changed things dramatically” since the traffic tests were conducted.
Inspector Nixon said he would refer to the Environmental Agency to ensure environmental regulations were enforced.
The appeal was adjourned to a date in early February, when Inspector Nixon will also conduct a site visit.
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