This dropped into my ‘inbox’ this morning;
Government response to petition ‘SaveRadleyLakes’
The e-petition asking the Prime Minister to “Stop foreign-owned utility companies from ruining the British countryside” (in this case, npower) is ongoing. This is an updated response in advance of the closing date from the Government.
Each planning application is considered on its own matters and against the relevant local and national planning policies. The portfolio of national policy includes policies designed to protect the countryside as set out in Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas).
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was required to consider RWE npower’s application to dispose of pulverised fuel ash at Thrupp Lake and did so against the appropriate planning policies. On 16th October 2006 she decided not to call-in the proposal for a Public Inquiry.
Oxfordshire County Council granted conditional planning permission on 5th January 2007 for ‘a new bunded ash lagoon in existing ‘Lake E’ gravel pit including construction of new ash lagoon, including working clay from the bottom of the existing lake to form an impermeable lining to the sides of the new lagoon; filling the new lagoon with pulverised fuel ash; restoration of nature conservation; deposit of silt and slurry from Lake E to Lake G; and pipe and drainage work’.
10 of the conditions attached to the permission required compliance before development commenced. 3 of these conditions are still outstanding and are in the hands of Oxfordshire County Council. The Planning and Regulation Committee resolved that they will determine them; their next meeting is on 16 July 2007. As the conditions precedent have not all been complied with yet, works cannot commence. Trees have been felled but these works do not require planning permission.
Oxfordshire County Council advise that no other work has commenced on site. The house next to the site has been occupied by security staff and three portacabins were erected on the driveway. The Vale of White Horse District Council has been alerted as such activity may require permission from them.
The compliance with conditions is a local matter and since planning permission has already been granted the Secretary of State cannot intervene.
The upshot of all that is we have councillors deciding on big decisions on local environmental impacts. Are they capable? I really doubt it.