Category Archives: Bolton’s Copper Works

Moneystone Quarry – Update Sep 2018

It would appear that there has been some recent noisy activity in Quarry 2 which has been impossible to view from any easily accessible vantage point. Does anyone know what is going on there, if so could you please let us know.

 

The tenants have now left Crow Trees Farm, Moneystone and this prime piece of land in the former quarry is now available to the owners of the site to ‘adapt’ to suit their purpose. We will be looking to see what planning applications come in for it as Laver Leisure have been extremely keen to have the farm vacated.

 

We will also continue to look out for any other planning applications that have anything to do with the former quarry, and other important sites such as Bolton’s Copperworks, to see what implications there are for the residents of the area.

 

We’ll do our best to keep you informed of developments, as and when they arise, and we would be grateful to receive any information you might have regarding constructional activities, especially those in and around the quarry and copperworks.”

Massive Support on the Whiston to Oakamoor Walk

"a slow march of defiance down to Oakamoor Village Hall"
“a slow march of defiance down to Oakamoor Village”

A large number of residents turned out last Saturday, and braved the treacherous roads to make a strong statement to the decision makers of the Staffordshire Moorlands.

We congregated at 9.45am at Whiston Village Hall, and then proceeded in a slow march of defiance down to Oakamoor Village Hall for refreshments and a chat about future plans. The consensus was that we must make both councillors and planning officers alike recognise the absurdity of Laver Leisure’s plans to ruin our beautiful valley.
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 There are so many reasons to dismiss this fatuous application, the main ones being a wholly inadequate road network, an extremely dangerous junction with the A52, and the danger presented to both residents and visitors tackling Carr Bank into Oakamoor village.
 Also there is an existing restoration plan in place with Staffordshire County Council that should have been completed in March 2014, but is nowhere near complete. This restoration should be completed to the satisfaction of SCC before any afteruse for the site is considered.
The fact that up to 100 of the 250 lodges proposed could be sold to private owners means that we could have a community living up in Moneystone twice as large as that of Whiston. Whilst SMDC will deny that people can live there permanently, how do they propose to police it? And we simply do not have the infrastructure to cope with that influx of people.
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Both groups would like to express their thanks to all who made the effort to attend, and also to thank the Police for ensuring our protest was made in a safe and responsible manner. 

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Traffic Chaos

A request for support from members of the public concerned about  tourism related traffic congestion in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Some of our councillors don’t appear to accept that existing levels of tourism generate considerable traffic issues at busy times in the Churnet Valley across a variety of routes and hot spot locations, including, Tittersworth, Rudyard, The Roches, Oakamoor and Alton.  For some time now Whiston Action Group has been gathering video and photographic evidence of existing traffic congestion throughout the Churnet Valley, showing that encouragement of further traffic pressure on our fragile road infrastructure is inappropriate.

WAG intends to expand and develop the evidence base of what increased tourism is already doing to our  roads in the Moorlands, and seeks the support of members of the public.   In this day and age of mobile camera technology it is easy to take a photo of any clogged roads you see whilst you are out and about.

WAG asks that you miss no opportunity to take those photos AND IF YOU HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO DO SO SEND THE PICTURES DIRECTLY TO COUNCILLOR SYBIL RALPHS AND ANY OTHER COUNCILLORS YOU WANT.

Sybil.Ralphs@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk

Please keep a note of the date, time and venue of the photos and let WAG know so that the data can be collated. There will be no need to forward the pictures to WAG as long as you preserve your own copy in case it is needed later.

This is an ongoing project and applies throughout the Churnet Valley  for the next twelve months.  Your contribution can help WAG fight inappropriate council proposals that are likely to exacerbate an already unacceptable situation.

 

Council ignores contamination at old Industrial site

Council plans to develop an old industrial site are being challenged by residents who claim that the council is ignoring a serious threat to public health from high levels of arsenic and cadmium contamination.
Local people claim that despite a professional study alerting Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) to major contamination concerns, no follow up action has been taken. Instead, the Council is proposing to build houses on the site. Residents say development proposals are being pushed through without adequate regard for public health.

In May 2011 a company called Taylor Young, as part of a study looking at possibilities for development of the old Bolton Copper Works at Froghall, discovered evidence of dangerous contamination from previous industrial processes. Although the evidence of contamination was clear, the limited work undertaken by the company and presented to the Council, was unable to specify precise locations and concentrations of contaminants. Their report recommended to the Council that a more comprehensive examination of the site was needed to establish the precise detail of the contamination.

An extract from the Taylor Young report stated:-
“Whilst the additional archaeological study has begun to highlight key issues, it raises fundamental issues of gross contamination, buried structures and ground water contamination. Further more detailed and extensive intrusive ground investigation to confirm general and local sub-soil and groundwater conditions, and nature form and extent of remnant sub-structure, is required.”

Last year, in an effort to assist the Council, local residents gathered information from ex-employees and people living near the contaminated ground, many of whom had valuable information to offer. A detailed dossier of evidence was forwarded to SMDC by the Foxt Action Group. Public expectation was that the Council would initiate an urgent investigation, but nothing appears to have happened.

Instead SMDC is currently asking the public to comment on its own proposals to develop the site and has published precise locations including a 50 bed hotel and 50 houses. Residents are alarmed that decisions are being made on where to build houses without even knowing where the concentrations of contaminants are.

Nick Cresswell of Whiston Action Group said:-
“They’ve got the cart before the horse. Can’t councillors see that the contamination has to be dealt with as a priority before any consideration is given to development? How can they plan to build houses without knowing what public health dangers they are likely to unleash? They’ve had a report and information from local people flagging up that there are real dangers on this site, but seem more intent on pushing forward with development than dealing with the problem. Residents want to see a full investigation of the contamination and it must be by an independent body. We’ve already had a recent problem on a separate issue with this Council commissioning a supposedly independent Transport Study that turned out to be handed to a company with close associations with a main developer. That must not happen again. We want a truly independent report commissioned on the Bolton’s public health risk as soon as possible.”

Members of the public wishing to comment on the Council’s draft Churnet Valley Masterplan that includes development at Froghall and other sites across the Churnet Valley have until 11 November to send in their comments. Details can be viewed on the Council’s website at:-
http://www.staffsmoorlands.gov.uk/sm/council-services/area-action-plans/churnet-valley-masterplan

SMDC challenged on their plans for the Churnet Valley

The commissioning of a transport company to write an independent report for SMDC has provoked reaction from Whiston Action Group because of the company’s close association with a major developer in the area.

Earlier in the year the Council presented a range of development options for the Valley. The public expressed an overwhelming preference for minimal development, a view at odds with the aspirations of developers.

Before writing the Churnet Valley Masterplan, the Council needed an independent report on the difficult topography and inadequate road infrastructure in the Churnet Valley, issues that are an obstacle to development. The Council selected the “Atkins” company, who wrote a Transport Study that now supports the Council’s plans.

As the Transport Study was such a key document, and needed to be truly independently written, it is very surprising to find out that SMDC chose the “Atkins” company, as Atkins have had a long association with the main developer in the Churnet Valley, namely Alton Towers. Alton Towers have contracted Atkins for many years to do traffic reports in support of their planning applications for new rides and accommodation extensions, a relationship well known to the Council Planning Department.

The general public may justifiably have concerns that a company so closely associated with a main developer has been selected by the Council to do a supposedly independent study.

Nick Cresswell, WAG’s Communications Officer, said:-
“WAG has examined the completed Atkins Transport Study and is concerned at the considerable bias shown in favour of the developers. The study content fails to adequately address key issues relating to Alton Towers that one would expect to be at the forefront of a truly independent study i.e. traffic issues, particularly injury collisions, on the approach routes to Alton Towers. Instead the study focusses on a catalogue of relatively obscure and inconsequential issues, such as suggested traffic delays at Bottom House crossroads of all places, that are not recognised by the public as genuine problems at all. The report has little credibility as an independent study and I would like to know who on earth selected a company so closely tied to Alton Towers. The only way forward is for the report to be re-commissioned, through a truly independent company.”

What’s Buried at Bolton’s Copper Works?

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council are encouraging tourist development at the old Bolton’s Copper Works at Froghall, but local residents have serious concerns about the level of contaminants left over from the industrial processes, including dangerous substances such as cadmium and arsenic.

Froghall Copper Works
Froghall Copper Works

In 2011 Staffordshire Moorlands district council commissioned a study that identified serious risks, but the study was superficial and did not go far enough to reveal the full scale and extent of the problem.   The true levels and distribution of the dangerous chemicals and heavy metals across the extensive site are still not understood.  Disturbance of the site through any development could cause significant risk to public health and the environment, through air born dust and with potential leaching of contaminants into water courses, if remediation work is not done properly.

Last year Foxt residents made a public appeal for information about where contaminants are buried. The public response revealed a wealth of information about the site, detailing what types of contaminants have been buried and where.  The information paints a dark picture of a dangerous legacy for future generations left behind by a previous industrial age when the dangers of such substances were either not known or were ignored.

Link to Foxt Action Group report:-

Bolton Copperworks Contamination Survey by Foxt Action Group – final report

Modern health and safety measures were introduced to combat such situations but we only have to look at the Corby Steel Works cleanup disaster in Northamptonshire to know that District Councils cannot be trusted to comply with the stringent requirements for site clean up.  At Corby disturbance of contamination resulted in child birth deformities in the town through which the contaminated waste was transported, caused by air born pollution from the lorries.  We don’t want the same thing to happen at Froghall.

John Williams of the Foxt Action Group said:-

“The response to our survey raised major concerns about the level of contamination and we are still in the process of gathering information to build up as detailed a picture as possible.  As local residents we are doing what we can to help protect the public.  We passed our report to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council last year but there hasn’t been much action so far.  In the interests of public health a full specialist’s study of the site is urgently required so that we all know what the dangers are, and what it will cost to put the site right before any development takes place.  We don’t want any cost cutting putting the public at risk as happened at Corby.”

What can you do to help?

  • If you have knowledge about contamination on the site please get in touch with John Williams on 01538 266682 or by e-mail at  foxtactiongroup@hotmail.co.uk
  • Ask your local councillors what they are doing to prevent birth defects in Froghall and the surrounding area.

WAG Open Meeting attracts wide ranging public support.

 

WAG’s open public meeting at Whiston Village Hall on Friday evening (02 Nov 2012) attracted over forty members of the public, not only local residents but people from villages throughout the Churnet Valley and other parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands, demonstrating wide ranging interest in concerns raised by WAG. An opening statement emphasised that WAG’s rigorous evidence based approach is intent on passing on conclusions based on facts – not opinions or gossip. Presentations were given by several speakers on a variety of issues, the most contentious being the Core Strategy Submission; Village House Building Proposals; Laver’s failure to restore Moneystone Quarry in accordance with the legally binding restoration plan, and public health concerns regarding the contaminated site at the Old Bolton Copperworks.

The District Council’s Core Strategy document, consider by many to be neither legally compliant nor sound, is currently being considered by the independent Planning Inspectorate. The inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, is to hold a Pre-Hearing Meeting at 10am Tuesday 11 Dec 2012 at the Bethel Suite, Tape Street, Cheadle, where he will set out the procedure and arrangements for his formal examination to be held in February of next year at Leek Council Offices. Anyone who made representations about the Core Strategy is encouraged to attend.

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), submitted as a last minute addition to the Core Strategy, raised many eyebrows. The document, compiled by SMDC officers in liaison with only landowners and developers, identifies and prioritises specific plots of land with housing potential in and around many villages in the Staffordshire Moorlands. Both during and after the meeting numerous attendees expressed their dissatisfaction with the complete absence of consultation by the District Council on this important issue.   The document has been submitted with the Core Strategy without public input.

On 11 Sep 2012 Laver Leisure circulated a letter to households in Whiston, Oakamoor and surrounding villages stating their intention of submitting within two weeks proposals to Staffordshire County Council to change the longstanding and legally binding requirement to restore Moneystone Quarry to farmland. No such application has been submitted and consequently, in the absence of any further communication from Laver to residents, a state of uncertainty exists within the community as to Laver’s future intentions.

The audience was surprised to learn that the Old Bolton’s Copper Works site is not recorded on the District Council’s contaminated land register, despite the council’s own specially commissioned Taylor Young Report identifying high levels of contaminants and a serious public health risk. In addition, a portfolio of evidence gathered from ex-employees pointing out precisely where contaminants are buried has been submitted to the council, who can have no excuse for failing to act. However, it is perhaps re-assuring that following representations from the Foxt Action Group the concerns have now been registered with the Environment Agency, with an investigation pending.

On a more positive note, there was considerable support for WAG’s Quiet Lane initiative, aimed at overcoming some of the tourist related traffic problems of increasing numbers of vehicles inappropriately using the Churnet Valley’s narrow country lanes. WAG has already received supportive comments from Karen Bradley MP, and now County Councillor Mike Worthington has been nominated by the Highway Authority to deal with the matter. WAG’s public survey of 100 road users demonstrated unanimous support from both residents and visitors. WAG’s proposal for a pilot scheme along The Red Road between Oakamoor and Alton, with suggested funding from Alton Towers monies committed as a condition under their last planning consent, is currently under consideration by Councillor Worthington. The pilot scheme would be a first step in achieving a network of Quiet Lanes in the core of the Churnet Valley, so that cyclists, horse riders and walkers could safely share our narrow lanes with slow moving vehicles driven with care and consideration.

Overall, a high level of enthusiastic support was received from attendees and after the meeting, Harry Blood, Chairman of Whiston Action Group, commented:-

 “I was very pleased with the turnout, particularly the interest and support shown by newcomers, as we continue to challenge inappropriate decisions that will affect our communities in the Churnet Valley for years to come. The importance of keeping locals in the picture on future plans for the Churnet Valley is exactly what the Government is expecting local councils to do. Sadly that message is largely ignored by SMDC. WAG is clearly filling a local need which is why the meeting went so well.”

 

Whiston Action Group Public Open Meeting 7pm Fri 02 Nov 2012

Title: WAG Public Open Meeting 7pm Fri 02 Nov 2012.
Location: Whiston Village Hall
Description: Public open meeting to update residents on Council Plans for Housing Development Sites, and tourism development at Moneystone Quarry, Bolton’s Copper Works and the Churnet Valley. A slide show presentation followed by a question and answer session. Light refreshments provided. All welcome.
Start Time: 19:00:00
Date: 2012/11/02
End Time: 22:00:00