April 25 2014 Latest news:

Norfolk villagers have triumphed today in their High Court fight to block plans for a lorry park and industrial units they see as a threat to rare flora and fauna in a nearby river.

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For more than two years, residents of Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, have fought to scotch proposals by village maltster, Crisp Maltings Group Ltd, to extend its premises with a lorry park, silos and a fuel storage unit on a greenfield site.

Villagers say the development would risk polluting the nearby River Wensum, which is home to rare white-clawed crayfish, Desmoulin’s wort snail, brook lamprey, bullhead and ranunculus plants that flourish in its chalk-rich stream.

North Norfolk District Council granted Crisp Maltings planning permission in September 2011. But a top judge today sent planners back to the drawing board when he overturned that decision, pinpointing a fundamental “inconsistency” in the council’s approach.

Judge James Dingemans QC said it was possible for the council to rationally conclude, after taking advice from Natural England and others, that it could grant consent without carrying out a full environmental impact assessment or habitats appropriate assessment.

However, the council’s development control committee could only do that if it was convinced that there was “no relevant risk” of the river suffering pollution.

By imposing as a condition of the planning consent a regime for regularly testing the river for pollutants, the judge said the committee implied that a “residual risk” existed. The committee could not “rationally adopt both positions at once”, he ruled.

The judge’s decision means the council must consider Crisp Maltings’ application afresh and, if it identifies any pollution risk at all, it must carry out full environmental and habitat assessments before it can lawfully grant planning permission.

Crisp Maltings, which has been based in the village since 1890, first applied for permission to build the lorry park, with 25 HGV and 21 car parking spaces, two silos capable of holding 6,000 tonnes of barley, fuel storage and other facilities, in October, 2009.

Despite the proximity of the river, a site of special scientific interest, the council decided that the plans would not create any environmental risks requiring special assessment.

Campaigners, however, insist planners got it wrong and that polluted ground water could leak into the river through a system of ditches if there is ‘extreme rainfall’ or the company’s counter-measures malfunction.

The judge said Crisp Maltings had carried out its own detailed environmental and flood risk assessments in a bid to allay those fears.

The council took advice from Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board before deciding that a full environmental impact assessment was unnecessary and granting planning consent subject to tight restrictions.

Council officers took the view that mitigation measures proposed by Crisp Maltings were ‘tried and tested’ and that there was ‘no relevant risk’ to the river waters.

Ruling on the case, Judge Dingemans said there was evidence that ‘there might have been a residual risk’ and that was backed up by the committee’s insistence on a strict water quality testing regime to ensure the river was not being contaminated.

He told the court: “It does not seem to me that the council could, rationally, adopt both positions at once...I do not consider that it is open for me to consider that this inconsistency was simply a function of local democracy at work and that it could be ignored.”

Overturning the planning permission, he concluded: “The committee will have to consider whether it considers that there is no relevant risk of pollutants entering the river...if there is such a risk, the committee will have to require an habitats appropriate assessment and an environmental impact assessment to be obtained”.

Crisp Maltings argues that the proposed extension to its site would save almost 5,000 HGV miles-a-year, as it would remove the need to transport vast amounts of barley to another plant, although more car journeys would result.

5 comments

  • A victory for due process but my prediction is that all will happen is that Crisp's will pay for an Environmental Impact Assessment, Natural England will conclude no adverse impact to the Wensum because they're under orders not to object to anything these days, the proposal will go to planning again and it'll be consented with all boxes ticked.

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    Betty Swallocks

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

  • How can people consider this a triumph, when all they are doing is trying to hold back the expansion of a British company.....Crazy Britain At Its Best....Other countries must laugh at us in the UK.

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    D.Simpson

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

  • How many of the protesters have moved into the village knowing full well the maltings were there? One wonders how many have their sewage disposal systems connected to treatment works which are bound to be near the Wensum at some point so maybe dual standards are in operation. A properly bunded (?) parking area and fuel storage area should protect the river and ditches. One realises the maltings are very different now to when my great uncle worked there, but they are part of the Norfolk economy and Great Ryburgh needs to remain a working village not a dormitory or retirement home for people divorced from the reality of how their food is grown and processed. The species cited by the protestors could most likely be found over a wide extent of the river and not just at the site mentioned and there must be a suspicion that the concern is not so much for the welfare of the river as for the protesters not wanting any more development. One is reminded that this is the home of the people who protest to the council about a crowing rooster.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

  • As one of the longest surviving residents [1068] it strikes me that Ms Roots is mired in her own sewage system and can’t see the true issues here. These are that the measures legitimately proposed by Crisp Maltings to exploit their land do so at the cost of the amenity of the villagers and the potential detriment to the environment, both of which have borne the existence of the expanding facility with an admirable tolerance. The village and the Maltings co-exist and without much friction given the nature of the activities. Despite Crisp Maltings cynically 'upping their game' in their attention to the casual nuisances of noise, lighting, early morning ‘rouge’ traffic movements and disruption when the application went in, they would have been better advised to pay attention to the serious environmental matters focused on in this judgement and the impact of amenity matters to the villagers. That the Maltings and the Council’s own shabby Planning Officers were caught out in giving advice as to how to increase production [ie after permission would have been granted] despite protestation by the Maltings that they had no such intention, that the new facilities merely enhance logistics and not throughput [nor traffic movements!] shows how tacky these matters can get when practiced to deceive. The Maltings discharge of the thousands of cubic meters of water daily pumped up from the aquifer to process their grain still floods downstream fields, and was arrogantly ignored until a resident pointed this out to the NNDC and the Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board – it is as yet unresolved. A testament to the real risk of pollution alluded to in this judgement. The whole process had the air of a poorly thought out campaign, perhaps because the holy cows of ‘jobs and industry’ were more in the focus of Planning and Business Development Councillors fresh from a then recent sea change in politics than a real, measured appraisal of the true issues. Several dismissive comments by Councillors at the unprecedented recall of the original planning decision to a full Council session-Oh YES! this will be the third time this development has been reviewed by the vacillating Councillors of NNDC – perhaps this time they will listen to their own environmental advisors and not apply quiet pressure with ‘Jobs’ used as a trump card, or, as its has turned out, a joker. The issue of employment raised by ‘Deep Root’ is a chimera- Crisp Maltings own submission state that there is no impact either way on employment; it’s a logistic and convenience matter. Maltings convenience of course. However the matter is actually a triumph for the Local Council too. Conscience played a part in Councillors who were under a three line whip to support the application. In the face of a late but determined challenge by residents, caveats and clauses were inserted into the permission, for example the requirement of the prior permission of the NRIDB grafted on at the meeting, controls on the light and noise pollutions arising, and the now fatal condition regarding testing of the Upper Wensum’s waters. Let us hope that the Maltings now spend real money, not on more glib and facile ‘consultations’ with which they stared their campaign, but by engaging with the residents and the NNDC experts to refine their scheme so that everyone can live with it. A truly jointly developed plan. It is the energy of the villagers and determination to do right in getting the process examined and thus the Permission reviewed. It is the courage of NNDC’s few Councillors who had a conscience, and stemming from their concerns over issues pushed into the long grass and daisy roots that allows this decision to be remitted. For-shame! Maltings; you can’t ignore a village which is integral to your activities; and you can’t simply gloss over environmental issues without due consideration. The Council is shown to have been in two minds, and this as the Judge has rightly pointed out shows a confusion in conscience and advice, despite the façade of a 9:2 for decision 2 years ago. In the long run, everyone will have benefitted buy this wise judgement. The Judge clearly saw that the Council as a body was not convinced despite the decision [fear of appeal costs?]. Well let them take heart and I hope that in the near 1000 years since my details were entered into the Doomsday Book we have learnt something about a social responsibility to this land and its people.- Ralph Grasse

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    Fat Ralph

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

  • What a fascinating interview on BBC Radio Norfolk with Councillor FitzPatrick. Lots of chat about the Development Committee did this and the Development Committee did that. What Councillor FitzPatrick forgot to mention was that he addressed the Development Committee that decided in favour of the Lorry Park in 2011. Check the minutes.

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    The Green Owl

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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