The quarry actually sits in the Thistleberry ward, contrary to what you will have heard in the media.
Planning Permission for the quarry to operate was given in 1996, despite opposition from my Liberal Democrat predecessors in Thistleberry. Permission was finally granted by the Secretary of State following refusal at local level. As part of that permission a condition was put in place that the quarry operators had to set up a liason committee to enable stakeholders to raise concerns. This committee has met for over 20 years now and we as the Liberal Democrat ward members have been active within that group which meets at least 4 times a year, throughout that period. At the start it was a productive committee and issues raised were thoroughly discussed and mediation took place, but latterly due to a change of operator at the quarry, useful discussions have broken down and Red Industries refuse to admit it is the quarry which emits the odour. It is hard to believe that the smell can be coming from anywhere else. The Environment Agency officers, Environmental Health team, Police, Highways Team and residents are all present at this forum.
So what happens next?
Regular meetings with management take place on site, raising your concerns, pressure is put on to get Red Industries to co operate better.
A report is about to be published at the end of March by the Council EH department following a member scrutiny committee which looked at all concerns independently, I sat on that panel. Recommendations are in that report about what we to improve. Odour is the major concern, but we are also looking at the route of travel, mud on the road, litter caused by the landfill site, excessive parking of lorries in the layby used by visitors to the cemetery and how we can prevent gulls becoming a nuisance to nearby residents. In that report we are saying very clearly that we think operations should be suspended until all mitigation measures are addressed, better care needs to be taken with regard to netting on site. We are asking for better monitoring of the site, particularly by the EA who have been slow to respond to complaints but are now more proactive following pressure from the public and agencies.
We are working with our MP who has now successfully managed to lobby colleagues for support in erasing the problem. That has only happened due to pressure over a number of years by faithful campaigners who have continually put the pressure. Much of my time has been taken up supporting them, time well spent.
I am disappointed that this has now become an election issue and folk are joining in on the band waggon, many of whom have been silent for years. Pity those people have not been active before, but I suppose we must be grateful they are joining us now, and I hope they continue to shout post County elections! I am supporting a motion put forward by the Labour Party to have an extraordinary full council meeting in order to debate the subject further. I am always disappointed that I cannot put forward a motion myself, but two Liberal Democrat councillors cannot get the necessary signatures to enable that to happen and opposition parties are reluctant to cooperate and so put in their own motions under their party brand.
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