Campaigners hoping to halt Parbold tip scheme

Campaigners are hoping a legal intervention in the controversial plan for a landfill site at a well-known beauty spot will lead to major changes to the scheme.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 11:16 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 11:22 am
Parbold Hill is at the centre of a major controversy

David Forsdick QC has submitted a report to Lancashire County Council criticising its development control committee’s split decision to approve reprofiling work at Parbold Hill Quarry.

The scheme is now paused, with the developer having to carry out a permit application process with the Environment Agency (EA) before a further report is prepared for the development control committee.

Stop Parbold Hill Landfill (SPHL) has hailed the move, saying the authorities have finally had to take into account the major concerns residents in the area were raising about the scheme, and criticising the county council that this has not happened sooner.

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The group hopes there will now be a significant rethink of parts of the proposal to make it more acceptable.

Lancashire County Council said it still did not accept some of the criticism in the report, but hoped the next stage of the process would address the issues the scheme’s opponents have with it.

Campaigners are aghast at aspects of the plans which gained councillors’ backing, including raising parts of the plot and thereby blocking out some of the spectacular, panoramic views enjoyed from the layby at the summit of Parbold Hill.

Concerns have also been raised about traffic bringing in the 200,000 tonnes of inert materials and clays to the site.

In his report, Mr Forsdick said the county council needed to think again about the plans and queried how the committee had come to the decision to give approval.

He wrote: “I consider that there are multiple inconsistencies, inaccuracies, misunderstandings and misconceptions underlying the resolution to grant – and a clear failure to test propositions of fact put forward by the applicant but which appear to be unsustainable and/or misconceived.

“Permission has not yet been granted and the council thus has an opportunity now to reconsider on a correct, factual, legal and technical understanding. I have no hesitation in recommending that they should do so.”

The county council received more than 1,000 objections to the work on Parbold Hill from residents, six parish councils and West Lancashire Borough Council.

Mr Forsdick also queried claims that the works would help to prevent pollution of the River Douglas.

His criticisms have been greeted with delight by campaigners who are now pressing for significant changes.

Del Ellis, on behalf of the SPHL group, said: “This highly-critical report confirms what we’ve pointed out all along.

“Lancashire County Council took the word of the applicant and assumed that there is a major problem on the hill. Lancashire County Council ignored our evidence which pointed out the flaws in the application.

“Amazingly, they discounted the advice of experts and public opinion and justified these massively destructive works in the Green Belt.

“The applicant was repeatedly advised (in line with Govt guidance) to work with the Environment Agency, but he ignored this.”

The campaign group hopes the work with the EA will minimise the impact of the scheme and what comes back before the committee will be more acceptable.

The county council has refused to concede some of the points of the scheme’s opponents, but hopes something which can be more widely agreed on can be reached.

A spokesperson said: “The county council has considered the advice that has been obtained by the action group. Whilst the county council does not accept many of the issues raised, it has nevertheless asked the applicant to progress a permit application with the Environment Agency.

“This is a step that has to take place anyway, and it will allow many of the questions raised by the action group to be further investigated, providing an opportunity for the scale and justification for the proposals to be further assessed by the agency.

“After the EA has determined the permit application, a further report on the application will be considered by the council’s Development Control Committee.”

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