Plans to dump waste on Ingrebourne Hill reviewed during appeal

Residents and councillors, who oppose the Ingrebourne Hill plans, staged a protest outside Romford T

Residents and councillors, who oppose the Ingrebourne Hill plans, staged a protest outside Romford Town Hall before the appeal started yesterday. - Credit: Archant

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.

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.”

Most Read

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.