Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spaldington Wind Farms Public Inquiry

As the Spaldington wind farms appeal public inquiry moves through its second week the pattern is becoming clear. It’s the Council and the ‘STOP’ Team* working on the side of the residents against the two wind farm developers, and each developer defending their position but going out of their way to rubbish the other. (*STOP is the Spaldington Turbine Opposition Project with its own barrister and expert witnesses all funded by the community)

Week one saw the opening exchanges with the Council’s expert landscape witness, the landscape witness employed by STOP, and the expert witnesses employed by the two developers taking the stand. They all presented evidence and were cross examined by the four barristers, with each trying to score points against the other. There is certainly an interesting atmosphere between the two appellant teams and their barristers, Mr David Hardy representing Falck Renewables and Mr Jeremy Pike representing Volkswind.

The evidence provided can come across as rather complicated and extremely detailed as it focuses on degrees of potential impact on the landscape, and how the landscape can be defined and compared with other areas. It also goes very deep into the potential theoretical impact on individual residences, the distances of turbines from the houses, likely views from different windows, and from what angle turbines are expected to be seen. There are photomontages provided by all parties showing views from near and far, from house windows and from gardens, from roads and footpaths. These are then challenged by the other parties for accuracy and consistency. Interestingly the most widely used and referred to photographs are the aerial shots provided by STOP, these taken from a helicopter hovering at the tip height of each of the 12 planned turbines. This being the first time this type of photograph has been used at any wind farm inquiry in the East Riding.

There are many references to planning inspector’s decisions at previous wind farm inquiries, and paragraphs from those decision documents quoted by all sides by the barristers and witnesses to back up their positions. However it has been frequently stated in the proceedings the the inspector will come to his own conclusions.

The Inquiry also saw 4 witnesses from Spaldington take the stand to give evidence and undergo varying degrees of cross examination; these included Parish Council Chair Kath Westin, local horse and rider trainer and businesswoman Janice Chadwick, Beryl Norris a medium at the Fir Tree Spiritualist Church, and local resident Ann Marie Jackson. All gave very passionate and emotional presentations, and stood up to the questioning extremely well.

As the Councillor on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee who moved the successful refusal of both wind farms before they were appealed and therefore some would say an ‘informed member’ of the public, I think the inquiry can be interesting if somewhat tedious at times. I keep saying to myself and others that the witnesses and the barristers don’t need to impress each other, me, or the public, they only have to impress the one person – and that is the Planning Inspector sitting on his own at the top table, who will ultimately make the decision to allow or refuse the appeals.

I am to give evidence on Friday 10th June 2011 !

Holme on Spalding Moor Road improvements to start soon

Sections of HOSM's Selby Road and High Street between the mini roundabout at the junction to the A614 and Major Bridge are due to be repaired and resurfaced as part a programme to improve roads within the East Riding of Yorkshire. This in addition to the recent repair and surface dressing work due to be completed by the Councils’ direct works department.

The work is programmed to commence on Monday 13th June 2011 and is expected to take 2 weeks to complete (weather permitting). Should there be delays due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, the scheme may extend beyond the expected completion date. The sections to be repaired are from the mini roundabout to Runner End, from Sands Lane/Station Lane to Water End farm (just beyond Bulmer Lane) and approximately 200 meters either side of Major Bridge.

Unfortunately, due to the narrow width to sections of the carriageway and to undertake the work safely, it will be necessary to close the road to through traffic during working hours. The road will be closed at 9.15am until 5.00pm Monday to Friday and 8.00am until 8.00pm Saturday and Sunday. Temporary traffic lights may be in operation outside of these times with the road open to traffic. When the surfacing is undertaken at Major Bridge, it will be necessary to close the road to all through traffic for one day due to the narrow section on a bend. This is programmed to take place on Sunday 26th June 2011. Please note that on this day the 0900 from Holme on Spalding Moor to York and the 1710 from York to Holme on Spalding Moor will operate as normal. All other buses on service 18A will start and finish at Foggathorpe Heavy goods vehicles will be diverted at Bubwith using the B1228 and A614 via Howden. Light vehicles will be diverted via Runner End and Back Lane where a 7.5 tonne weight limit exists.

Access will be maintained for shop deliveries, emergency services, refuse collection, mobile library, mobile optician and postal services. The existing bus services, including school buses, will be allowed through the works and operate as normal. Residents living within the work areas will be able to access their properties from Runner end or the A614, dependent on the location of the surfacing operation but are requested to avoid attempting to travel through the works. The contractor will be able to advise residents regarding access on a daily basis (contact details below).

Galliford Try Highway Maintenance Ltd has been contracted to undertake the work on behalf of East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Should you have any questions or require further information please contact the project Engineer Jeff Taylor on 01482 395504 or the above mobile number. (Email: - jeffrey.taylor@eastriding.gov.uk). During his absence you may wish to contact James Sissons (Project Manager) on 01482 395644. To discuss access or work related matters, you may wish to contact the contractor’s representative, Chris Moody (mobile: 07885 135439) or Kev Thompson (mobile: 07888 027192).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meeting with Gilberdyke Tip Operators

I was recently given the task of chairing a meeting facilitated by the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT) between representatives from the new owners of the Gilberdyke Landfill Site site Mr Kevin Wanlass and Mr Sam Juggins, Matthew Wollin from the Environment Agency, Newport residents and representatives of both Gilberdyke and Newport Parish Councils.

Although the meeting went quite well, everyone was civil to each other, and many questions were answered, but I certainly felt that a number of unanswered questions remain and there are series issues that need to be addressed. I was reassured that the Environment Agency who monitor the site has visited the site each week in the past six weeks, but what was clear from the beginning is there had been almost no communication from the tip’s new owners and the community, and for me this had led to the tensions. I hope the putting forward of views and the answers given will in some way reduce these tensions.

I am still at a loss as to why a company applying to extend the life of a tip would put the residents through so much suffering in the lead up to the application being heard. It was not made clear as to why we had seen the vast increase in HGV movements to and from the site, and why many of the HGV movements appear to be by trucks originating in the North East of the Country.

From the information given by the representatives from the tip it would appear that the original owners have made the application to extend the life of the tip, this being ‘City Plant’ which operated as a sole trader. A recent change has taken place with the operators now being a limited company trading as ‘City Plant Limited’ which corresponded with a cash injection into the business. However, the identity of the directors of this new company was withheld. What is clear is that Mr Kevin Wanlass confirmed that he is employed by North East based waste company Niramax and is acting as a consultant to the new operators of the site.

Gilberdyke Parish Councillor John Jessop adds, “It was confirmed that the injection of new finance with the aim of utilising all the available space left in the site, will result in a very significant number of lorry movements over and above those estimated in the City Plant planning application to extend the life of the tip”.

“Complaints from residents about the offensive stench were virtually ignored and claims by the company and the Environment Agency that any smells were ‘Agricultural in source’ were made. Unfortunately many of the group of residents were of farming stock and the claim completely rejected. The stench (the company describe it as an odour) had become particularly bad over recent weeks, an explanation was offered but there was a degree of scepticism from the residents and Parish Councillors.

Concerns were also raised regarding the discharge of foul, black liquid into the dyke alongside the tip, this was denied and at one point the EA officer tried to suggest that the resulting elevated level of liquid in the dyke was due to the tide – The dyke is not tidal, it has tidal doors at the River Ouse end and the River Foulness at the other end is not tidal! Photographic evidence of pollution of the dyke as far as Gilberdyke Medical Centre was produced. Unfortunately no answer could be given that was acceptable to the residents and Parish Councillors.

A promise was given that the life of the tip would not be extended again if this extension were to be granted - can we really believe this or to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies of Profumo case fame many years ago "Well they would say that wouldn't they?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sixpennywood Wind Farm Access Road Saga Continues

The Sixpennywood wind farm saga continues to rumble on, and agreement has still not been reached over access to the site near Howden, as this coming week Howdenshire residents look to try and fight off two other wind farm developers proposing to build wind farms at each side of Spaldington, a village also near Howden. The battle commences at the Planning Appeal Public Inquiry beginning in Goole on 24th May.

This past week I was proud to join Balkholme residents, Parish Councillors, and representatives of the ‘Sixpennywood Not’ anti-wind farm group on a site meeting with representatives of wind farm developer ‘Your Energy’ and a Government appointed Planning Inspector. The purpose of the visit was to look at the piece of land being offered by the developer as ‘Common Land’ as a replacement for a piece of ‘Common Land’ they wish to take in order to construct the wind farm access road.

I really struggle with the idea that an area forming a rectangle of some 500 square meters is to be taken, and replaced with a strip ‘43cm wide by over a 1km long’.

The consultation reply from the British Horse Society sums it up very well:

“The replacement land is of inferior quality, being at the edge of a deep dangerous drain, overgrown with trees and shrubs and what is to all purposes the rough ground where the drain is cleaned out onto.

The land proposed as replacement is not as stated on the 'edge of agricultural land ' and a less than half a metre strip of 'waste' can hardly reciprocate for the present common.

The consultation on this proposal was poor and the maps wholly inadequate and the equestrians feel that the scheme could go ahead with a permit to work on the common without the need to de-register it”.

Is this really the best Your Energy can come up with? Why instead could a useful area of land (of 500 square meters) not be provided for community use?

The Planning Inspector has my sympathies here, because it is a question of what is technically right and what is morally right.

The other point is that the access road, if given the go ahead, will have to cross a bridleway, well used by local people - especially on horseback. Your Energy is applying to close a 12m section of this bridleway for a period of 6 months during the construction of the wind Farm. Apparently, due to the risks posed to public safety.

Once the construction period is complete, the bridleway will be re-opened and access will remain as it currently exists but with an access track, constructed of compacted stone surface, crossing the bridleway for the operational lifetime of the wind farm (25 years).

The British Horse Society has also raised points about this, and I for one would not like to see the bridleway closed or significantly diverted. A compromise is certainly possible here.

I also struggle with why the access to construct this wind farm was not part of the original planning application. It this yet another example of ‘Your Energy’ playing fast and loose with the feelings of local residents and the system?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Environment Agency Update on Gilberdyke Landfill Site

The following is the information I have received from the Environment Agency about the work they are doing at the Gilberdyke landfill site.

Across England and Wales, millions of tonnes of household and business waste end up in landfill.

The Environment Agency makes sure that landfill sites are meeting their high environmental standards and have a minimal impact on people and the environment.

Modern landfill sites are created to an agreed standard to minimise gases or polluting liquids being released. Polluting liquids – known as leachate – and landfill gases are extracted from the waste and need to be disposed of accordingly.

How we regulate the site
In the past, landfill sites had a mixture of modern areas and older areas where, the control of these gases and liquids were not to the current standard. Gilberdyke landfill site is one of these. The continued development of the site is in part based on improving the way the site operates.

Fortunately, because of the site’s location, there is a very low chance of any liquids being released into the ground, even from the older sections In 2006, we issued Gilberdyke landfill site with an environmental permit. The permit imposes a series of conditions aimed to minimise the risk to the environment from elements such as odour, dust and litter.

We regularly inspect the site to make sure that the operator is complying with the conditions of their permit. If we feel that conditions have not been met, we raise them with the operator to resolve. If these are not resolved to our satisfaction, we have a number of options we can use to make sure work is carried out.

There are a number of things that other organisations, such as the local authority, are responsible for at the site. These include:

• how many hours the site operates for;

• how many vehicles tip at the site;

• the access routes used to get to the site;

• the time limit for the life of the site;

• the final height of the site - this is determined by planning permission.

What we have being doing
The site has recently become busier than it has been in the last few years. This occurred at the same time as a change in ownership, with the new owner being Cityplant Ltd. This has coincided with an increase in the number of complaints we have received from local residents. Consequently, we have increased how often we inspect the site and have prioritised our efforts to ensure that they are operating correctly.

Below are examples of issues that we have dealt with recently:

• At the start of April, the operator disconnected the extraction system that removes odorous gas so that they could carry our engineering work. This may have been the source of some of the odours attributed to the site at the time. The system has now been reconnected and was also improved.
• A new fence has been erected at the top of the site to control litter during high winds. This is working well.
• There are now permanent litter pickers employed at the site to remove any litter that does blow away from the working area.
• Recent complaints about odour and litter may have been due to a shortage in materials that cover the waste during and at the end of the day. Consequently, the operator received a large amount of material that will cover the waste better. Because of such a large delivery, there was a short term increase in the number of vehicles going to the site. The operator is also planning to operate a narrow tipping area and cover waste repeatedly during the day to help control litter.
• The operator has used tankers to remove leachate from the site for disposal elsewhere. This has minimised the risk of water pollution or odours.

Work in the future
The operator has agreed to install a number of extraction wells to help minimise odour. This is planned for the autumn but will depend on the amount of waste coming onto site.

We are currently in discussions with the operator to investigate ways of minimising the odour before the full extraction as mentioned above.

Further information

We welcome any further information you may have relating to the landfill site. This will help us to ensure that the site is being operated correctly.

If you notice odours or litter from the site, please call our 24 hour incident line on 0800 80 70 60.

If you have any further questions about our role at Gilberdyke landfill please contact:

Matthew Woollin
Regulatory Officer

Tel: 01709 312 933

Friday, May 13, 2011

Farewell as Chair of the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team

It has been covered in today’s Yorkshire Post that I have been removed from the Chairmanship of the Goole and Howdenshire Local Action Team (LAT) by the Leader of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Having received calls and messages from many people last night and today - I feel very humbled by the support offered. Interestingly, I have not heard it from anyone that I have been removed for lack of effort, hard work or commitment – and I do not believe I have been removed for any of these reasons.

I am not alone in being removed from a position of responsibility within the Council; three of my close Councillor colleagues have suffered the same fate for what appears to be similar reasons.

Most know me as a very principled Councillor, and I believe it is for standing up for those principles, particularly around the issues of early retirement for senior officers, and supporting the Conservative Party and Howdenshire residents on a number of issues not in tune with the thinking of the Leader of the Council, that I have been removed from the post.

I’m feeling quite philosophical about all this; to lose the Goole and Howdenshire LAT Chairmanship is sad, and I’m sure has nothing to do with what I have achieved, but under the circumstances was to be expected, and predictable. I’m looking forward to spending more of my time working for the residents of Howdenshire whilst still continuing with my role on the Council’s Corporate Communities Scrutiny Committee and discovering the intricacies of the Licencing 2003 Committee – to which I have been appointed.

I will of course continue to work with the new Goole and Howdenshire LAT Chair, and have already pledged my full support and offered to help in any way I can.

At the end of the day it is the Leader of the Council that has the power to appoint Councillors to Cabinet posts, Committee places, and Chairmanships – he also has the power to remove them….

I would like to thank all the partners that make up of the Goole and Howdenshire LAT, all the ward Councillors, Parish and Town Councillors, Council Officers and members of the public with whom I've worked over the past 3 years - it's been fantastic!

As a footnote, Cllr Parnaby still enjoys my support as Leader of the Council.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boothferry Bridge reopened ahead of schedule

This week saw the re-opening of Boothferry Bridge to traffic following completion of the major maintenance by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC); this has been completed in less time than the advertised ten week closure.

The main contractor 'C Spencer Ltd' who in conjunction with specialist paint and mechanical & electrical sub-contractors must be congratulated on completing a varied and challenging scope of works within a tight working area and programme. Savings on certain activities also enabled additional works to be undertaken to prevent major disruption in the future.

Even though the available scheme funding was focused on the main structure improvements to the bridge approaches have been made at minimal cost with assistance provided both internally by ERYC Streetscene - and externally by the Humberside Probation Service in putting offenders to work.

Given the feedback the ERYC has received from users it is believed that the temporary transportation measures implemented to assist pedestrians and cyclists worked well during the closure period.

Further minor works to the bridge together with removal of fencing, welfare facilities and equipment will continue over the next week or two. Signing for the temporary traffic management measures introduced as a result of the closure are currently in the process of being removed which should be completed this week.

I would just like to thank people for your co-operation and that of the local community who have shown great patience given the duration of the closure.

A great job done by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council - below budget (so as to allow additional works to be carried out) and ahead of time.

Photograph by Bernard Bradley

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Paul Robinson re-elected in Howdenshire

Many thanks to the 2,640 Howdenshire people who gave me their vote on Thursday, enabling me to top the poll by 297 - and along with my two Conservative Colleagues, Doreen Engall and Nick Evans elected to represent you on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council for the next four years. It was humbling to receive such great support from all the 15 Parishes that make up Howdenshire.

The Conservatives also did very well across the East Riding as a whole with us gaining many seats, to now hold 53 of the possible 67 seats.  (For the results please click here)

I would also like to thank all those people of my home village of Gilberdyke for their support in re-electing me to the Parish Council as part of ‘TEAM GILBERDYKE’ and congratulations to the other ten members who were also elected. We set out our priorities and now we have to look to deliver on them over the next four years.

I would like to thank my wife and daughter, family and friends for their support, my team of supporters and helpers – and in particular my agent, Victoria Aitken.

I also recognise those people who did not vote for me in either of the elections and will strive to work for, and represent them too.

I have always said that I would be “Howdenshire resident’s representative on the East Riding Council rather than the Council’s representative to them” – this is what I will continue to be.

The work continues with a number of issues having to be worked on this weekend.

Once again thank you to the residents of the parishes of Gilberdyke, Newport, North Cave, Hotham, Broomfleet, Blacktoft, Laxton, Kilpin, Eastrington, Spaldington, Wressle, Holme on Spalding Moor, Foggathorpe, Bubwith, and Ellerton and Aughton for again putting your faith in me.

(Picture courtesy of Sean Stewart)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Campaign is Over

So the campaign is over, the last leaflets are delivered and people have been canvassed, and now it’s up to the electorate – many, many thanks for all that have helped us in Howdenshire, but also thanks to all those who offered me their support, especially my friends and family.

I wish all my friends who are standing for election tomorrow, for whichever Party (or Independent) the very best of luck – I’ve seen the time and effort you’ve put into your campaigns – well done!

Finally to all those living in the wonderful area of Howdenshire - I would really appreciate your vote tomorrow!

For those living in Gilberdyke - my fellow Members of TEAM GILBERDYKE and I would also appreciate your vote.

... and finally and not forgetting a vote for NOtoAV.