Tag Archives: Staffordshire Moorlands

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:-
https://www.staffsmoorlands.gov.uk/sm/council-services/area-action-plans/churnet-valley-masterplan

OUTRAGE AT EXCESSIVE LODGE DEVELOPMENT

Whiston Action Group is staggered to see the inclusion of a proposed 250 holiday lodges on the former Moneystone Quarry site in the current draft Churnet Valley Masterplan. This has alarmed local residents who feel the small villages of Oakamoor and Whiston will be totally overwhelmed by thousands of visitors in a completely unsuitable location.

Planning officers, not councillors have come up with this number of lodges, which appears totally without evidential base and at odds with Councillor Sybil Ralphs dream of attaining AONB status for the Churnet Valley. Such large scale development is completely at odds with AONB designation, and may explain why Laver Leisure have demanded that SMDC delete its AONB aspirations!

Whiston Action Group’s Communication Officer, Nick Cresswell, said,

“250 lodges is ridiculous and makes a complete mockery of the AONB application. The Peak Park Planning Authority sets a maximum of 30 units per development, but SMDC planning officers consider the beautiful Churnet Valley to be so unimportant that they are prepared to propose a development more than 8 times this size. Officers have not contacted Staffordshire County Council Highways officers about this proposed development, yet there are huge safety risks involved in dealing with the volume of traffic this development would create, and Highways officers have advised us of the dangers of large volumes of traffic exiting Whiston Eaves Lane onto the A52. Entering the site from Oakamoor would be similarly hazardous.

During the consultation on the options for the Churnet Valley, residents gave a clear message that they wanted only minimal development. As is becoming the norm, the views of residents are being completely ignored, and council taxpayers are being treated with contempt. It begs the question “Why do SMDC have consultation at all?” In my view the process is not transparent and is a pro forma and a box ticking exercise that they carry out to meet statutory planning requirements, then if the answers do not suit the officers views and aspirations, are completely ignored”.

“The scale of the Moneystone development beggars belief. Our narrow country lanes can barely cope with the current level of traffic and this development could see as many as an extra 100,000 vehicle movements per year, which is simply not safe.”

“SMDC officers seem to have just plucked a number out of thin air, without any thought or regard for the safety of residents, or the impact it will have on our two villages.”

“Whiston Action Group urges SMDC councillors to seize back the initiative and demand a re-draft of this proposal so that the number of lodges reflects a genuine attempt to gain AONB status, and, for once, to reflect public opinion!”

AONB Petition by Churnet Valley Conservation Society

WAG welcomes the following request from Karen Seaton of the Churnet Valley Conservation Society, seeking your support for a petition aimed at achieving        Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status for the Churnet Valley.

 Karen Seaton CVCS Spokesperson says:

 “We are not so sure that people are aware that the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Core Strategy was recently rejected by the Government Inspector, who found more than 70% of the points within it to be unsound. We feel that there is a very serious risk that, with the council floundering to complete their strategy documents, time may slip away and we will miss this important opportunity to protect and recognize the valley. We are asking people to contact Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and support us in two requests we have made to them:    

1. During the next public consultation phase for the Churnet Valley Master Plan include a simple question: Would you be in support of designating the area as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

2. Should it be apparent that the electorate of the area do wish to obtain this important designation for their area, that the District Council fully embraces the potential and opportunities AONB designation offers.

We are undertaking a four week long petition and contacting a range of people and organizations across the county asking that they support our call, and we are asking as many people as possible to contact their County, District, Town and Parish Councillors and ask them to pressurise Staffordshire Moorland District Council into action. “

 The Churnet Valley Conservation Society would be happy to discuss this further and I would be pleased if you could support or campaign for the designation of the Valley as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The petition is available across the area in shops, libraries, pubs etc. An on-line petition may also be found at https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/staffordshire-moorlands-district-council-support-area-of-outstanding-natural-beauty-status-for-the-churnet-valley

Or follow the link from https://www.churnet-valley-conservation.org/

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.

Major changes required to Council Plans for the Churnet Valley

An independent Government Inspector considers the District Council’s Core Strategy development proposals for the Staffordshire Moorlands to be “Unsound” and has declined to give them approval without major changes being made.  Mr Patrick Whitehead, in his interim conclusions to the Council dated 05 March advises that numerous sections of the plan need to be re-written.  The damning report identifies only 5 areas of the plan that are “Sound”, but a massive 21 that are “Unsound”.  The report presents a major setback for the Council.

 

The Inspector’s criticisms follow a three day hearing in February when Mr Whitehead heard representations from the public, arguing that the Council had got the development plan wrong in many respects, including house building allocations and tourism proposals for the Churnet Valley.   At the hearing Whiston Action Group (WAG) members argued strongly that large scale tourism proposals for a “tourism corridor” in the Churnet Valley were inappropriate in scale and had been ill thought out.   At the invitation of the Inspector WAG drafted an alternative tourism policy for the Churnet Valley for his consideration aimed at supporting small locally based businesses that could promote tourism on a less intensive scale, more appropriate to the limitations of the environment and more acceptable to local residents.

 

Nick Cresswell, WAG Communications Officer , said:-

 

“WAG is pleased that the Inspector listened to us and has identified the flaws in the Council Plan.  It’s now down to the Council to respond to his comments.  The Council Cabinet will need to go back to the drawing board and this time genuinely listen to what the public want for the Churnet Valley.  Once proposals have been re-written, the Inspector requires a six week public consultation period during which time members of the public will be able to make a judgement and comment.  WAG hopes this is a new beginning but we have been let down by the Council before.  Time will tell.”

 

For more information please visit the following links:-

 

 

Have your say on Churnet Valley Tourism Policy

 You may or may not be aware that the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s Core Strategy has just undergone its independent review. This document is essentially the plan for all developments until 2026 affecting the whole of the Staffordshire Moorlands. WAG and Churnet Valley Conservation Society objected to the lack of consultation of this document and more specifically section SS7 detailing the plans for the Churnet Valley as a Major Tourism Corridor. As a result of this, the Inspector has asked WAG to re-write section SS7, giving WAG just two weeks to accomplish this task.

WAG are in the process of writing this section, but are not happy to submit the final document without local consultation. Therefore, we would appreciate your comments on the attached questionnaire by 20 February prior to the final submission. We are sorry that this is such a short time to comment on such an important issue, however our hands are tied as this is the inspectors turnaround time. We therefore really appreciate your prompt reply. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Click the following link to open the questionnaire 140213WAGQuestionnaire

Please open, save and  complete the questionnaire and forward it by email to wagsecretary@gmail.com

or by post to

Harry Blood, WAG Chairman,

4 Brookfield Close, Whiston, Staffordshire Moorlands, ST10 2JG

 

Planning Inspector invites Objectors to rewrite Council’s Strategy for Churnet Valley.

The independent Government Inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, has at long last provided residents with the first genuine opportunity to have their say on the future of the Churnet Valley.

During a three day hearing this week at Moorlands House, Leek, the Inspector scrutinised the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s Draft Core Strategy Document to see if it is fit for purpose. The inspection was rigorous and follows an avalanche of public criticism of the Council’s plans during the consultation phase, when thousands of comments were made by local residents, the main issues being the so called “tourism corridor” and housing development allocations.

The scale of public interest was so great that the packed public hearing had to be moved to a larger room at one stage.  The Inspector heard evidence from Whiston Action Group representatives challenging excessive and unsustainable proposals for tourism development at Moneystone Quarry and other locations.   The hearing heard about the inadequacies of the road infrastructure to cope with existing tourism problems stretching from The Roaches in the north down to Alton in the south. The scale of development proposed by the Council was considered ill thought out, inappropriate and unsustainable.   Witnesses argued that better tourism, involving encouragement for small locally based businesses is required, not large scale tourism developments by outside commercial interests.    The Peak District National Park is already suffering from an excess of unsustainable tourist numbers and wishes to off load that excess to the Moorlands, despite the serious risk that the Churnet Valley will fall victim to the same problem.  Calls for the Council’s proposals to be scaled back considerably to a level that the area and residents can cope with were listened to with evident sympathy by the inspector who has taken the significant step of inviting objectors (mostly represented by WAG) to re-draft the key Churnet Valley Tourism section of the Council plan (Policy SS7), discuss their ideas with the District Council to achieve agreement if possible and then for him to review progress with a revised policy in two weeks.

 

WAG welcomes that recognition of its concerns and those of other objectors and is currently in the process of coordinating views to arrive at a revised draft policy for discussion with the District Council before responding to the Inspector’s invitation.

Over the next few weeks, the Inspector has said that he will be reviewing his proposed modifications to the Core Strategy before deciding whether the changes that he would wish to see can be incorporated satisfactorily or whether they are of such significance that he must return the Council’s Core Strategy for complete revision.

 

Nick Cresswell, WAG Communication Officer, said:-
After two years of frustration with a District Council that does not listen to local residents, WAG is pleased to see the intervention of an independent public enquiry and looks forward to the day when an eventual plan will be produced for the future of the Churnet Valley that genuinely reflects the needs of residents.”

SMDC Core Strategy being tested by Independent Inspector

Mr Patrick Whitehead of the independent Planning Inspectorate initiated his examination of the SMDC’s Core Strategy on Tuesday (11 Dec 2012) with a pre-hearing meeting at the Bethel Suite, Tape Street, Cheadlle.  The well attended meeting listened to Mr Whitehead outline the way in which he would engage with the public during the main examination period scheduled to start on Tuesday 05 February at Moorlands House, Stockwell Street, Leek.  WAG representatives present were encouraged by the openness of the proposals and Mr Whitehead’s willingness to listen to the issues raised by those present concerning the Core Strategy document’s lack of legal compliance and soundness.  WAG welcomes a rigorous independent examination of the SMDC Core Strategy document to see if its supporting evidence stands up to scrutiny.
If you wish to know more the inspector’s Programme Officer, Pippa Home, can be contacted at ProgrammeOfficer@staffsmoormlands.gov.uk   tel 0845 129 7777 ext 3705 (Wednesday mornings, Thursdays and Fridays.)

SMDC Core Strategy Pre-hearing Meeting at Cheadle 10am Tues 11 Dec 2012

Just a note to those people who made representations to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council expressing concerns about the legal compliance and soundness of the Core Strategy.  The deadline for registering your intention to attend both the Pre-hearing Meeting 10am Tues 11 Dec 2012 at the Bethel Suite, Tape Street,  Cheadle, and the Full Hearing on a date to be fixed in February 2013 at Moorlands House, Leek, is fast approaching.  You have until 30 November 2012 to register your intention of attending.   If you have not done so, act quickly by contacting the Planning Inspector’s Programme officer, Pippa Home, on 0845 129 7777 ext 3705 or by e-mail at  ProgrammeOfficer@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk

Whiston Action Group would be pleased to hear from organisations or individuals planning to attend the Pre-Hearing Meeting, who would like to take the opportunity of discussing issues of mutual interest.

WAG communications Officer, Nick Cresswell, can be contacted on 07850 336587

Book now for Planning Inspector’s Pre-Hearing Meeting at Cheadle

An independent Government Planning Inspector is to examine the Core Strategy Document submitted by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to test whether it is legally compliant and sound.  A date has yet to be fixed for the main hearing in February next year  at Leek, but the Inspector, Mr Patrick Whitehead, is holding a Pre-Hearing Meeting at the Bethel Suite, Tape Street, Cheadle, at 10am on Tuesday 11 December 2012 to discuss the examination procedure and arrangements for the hearing sessions.

WAG welcomes Mr Whitehead’s independent examination.  It follows a flood of representations from the public, many considering that the District Council’s Core Strategy Document has been developed with inadequate public consultation and fails to meet the tests of legal compliance and  soundness.

Any members of the public who made representations to the District Council have until Friday 30 November 2012 to register their intention of attending the Pre-Hearing Meeting on 11 Dec and/or the main hearing in February 2013.  They should contact the Programme Officer, Pippa Home, at Moorlands House, Stockwell Street, Leek, on 0845 129 7777 ext 3705 or by e-mail at ProgrammeOfficer@staffsmoorlands.gov.uk