Rethink over asbestos dump at beauty spot near Bristol
By The Bristol Post | Thursday, September 29, 2011, 07:00
A DECISION to allow thousands of tonnes of asbestos to be dumped close to one of Bristol's biggest sources of drinking water has been revoked.
Campaigners fighting against plans to dump 645,000 tonnes of the mineral at Stowey Quarry, near Chew Valley Lake, described a U-turn by Bath & North East Somerset Council, announced yesterday, as their "first triumph" – but say they know their battle will continue.
David Elliott, who lives opposite the quarry, recently launched judicial review proceedings against the council, claiming that due process had not been followed in letting residents have their say about the plans.
At a meeting in Keynsham yesterday members of the council's planning committee unanimously agreed that their earlier decision should be quashed.
Afterwards the council said in a statement: "We accept that the site notice and newspaper advert did not wholly comply with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations.
"A member of the public reading the notices would have been unlikely to realise that the proposal was for EIA development and would therefore be unaware of their right to inspect and comment upon the environmental statement at an early stage in the process."
The statement goes on to say that once its original decision from July is quashed in the High Court, the planning application will be properly advertised and the council will come to a fresh decision.
Mr Elliott, 57, who has lived near the quarry in Hinton Blewett for the last 30 years, told the Evening Post he was "absolutely delighted" with the decision. He said he was not a member of the campaign group set up to fight the plans but had launched judicial review proceedings to "protect his family".
"I have a very good lawyer who said the council had not advertised the planning application properly and I launched the review based on that technicality," he said.
"We didn't expect them to back down so easily but am glad they did.
"I wholly object to the idea of an asbestos dump being placed on a windy hill near Chew Valley Lake.
"There would be the potential for fibres to get into the water supply and into the air. I just wanted to protect my family.
"The one positive to come out of this is that the community has really come together."
Campaign group spokeswoman Lucy Polver said: "We are all really pleased, but obviously we know that the fight will continue.
"It seems very likely that the developer will put in another planning application. But at least this time we can be part of the process and will have a chance to object to the plans.
"The good thing is that we are now ready as a group. We plan to keep meeting and seeing what we can do.
"We have quite a lot of expertise between us and are prepared for whatever comes next."
The application, made by Oaktree Environmental, was to store what council officers referred to as "stable non-reactive hazardous waste".
The proposal was considered by the council's planning committee in July and given the go-ahead, despite Bristol Water and parish councillors opposing the plans.
Residents only later launched their campaign to get the council to revoke the decision, saying they did not find out about the application until after it had already been approved. The Stop Stowey Quarry Asbestos Landfill group gathered 1,800 signatures on a petition and held protest marches.
No one from Oaktree Environmental was available for comment last night.