The installation of perimeter security fencing consisting of 2 metre (m) high Heras fencing and 3m high deer fencing; an office and wc at the site entrance; and office, welfare accommodation, water fuel and a generator, all ancillary to and in association with appeal decision APP/B3600/A/11/2166561 dated 7 August 2015.
An update sheet was tabled at the meeting and this is attached at Annex B
Caroline Smith, Planning Development Manager
Samantha Murphy, Principal Planning Officer
Nancy El-Shatoury, Principal Solicitor
Alan Hustings, local resident, made the following points:
1. Planning permission for Europa was granted, subject to strict conditions. The first was regarding the site plan, with a clear red line area of 0.79 hectares (ha). This application has expanded the site in every direction.
2. This application is for both buildings and fences to be erected on the enlarged site, breaching Condition 6. The applicant and officers claim the conditions do not apply as this is not a modification or addition to an existing application, but instead a new one.
3. The site plan shows changes to the access track and the western boundary has been moved four metres outwards to give more space on the site.
4. The site was carefully kept at under 1.00 ha to minimise the risk of being deemed a major development. By setting these conditions, the Planning Inspectorate expected these to be adhered to.
5. The Council should expect a legal challenge if this application is approved.
Max Rosenberg, local resident, made the following points:
1. The Inspector’s primary reason for granting permission was that the site was smaller than 1.00 ha. This application for fencing and ancillary buildings violates that rationale, as the size of the site has increased from 0.79 ha to 1.01 ha. The Inspector explicitly stated that sites greater than 1.00 ha were considered to be major developments. It is probable that the Inspector would not have granted permission if the site was 1.01 ha at the time of the original application.
2. The original application was considered by the Inspector not to be harmful to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) due to its lack of visibility. This new application makes the site visible from Coldharbour Lane, with at least 100m-200m of industrial fencing on the roadside.
3. Europa claimed the application was needed due to a change in the security environment, however the Environmental Impact Assessment was written in 2014, after protest activity had begun.
4. Security fencing should have been included in the original application.
Vicki Elcoate, frequent user of Coldharbour Lane:
1. The only other fence on the lane is rustic and wooden and blends into the surroundings. The fencing proposed in this application will industrialise the lane and cause major visual impact in an AONB.
2. There was a lack of clarity regarding the length of the fence.
3. 18 weeks was not an insignificant length of time given the number of cyclists and visitors to the area all year round.
4. A pathway on the western side of the development would be cut off, impacting on public access. This route could be a Public Right of Way which had not be recorded on the definitive map. Surrey County Council should assess this route for inclusion in the map and then follow procedures for temporary closure of a right of way accordingly.
Julian Everett, local resident, made the following points:
1. Questioned why the application was not submitted as part of the Public Inquiry in 2015 in order to allow the Planning Inspectorate to make an informed decision.
2. Europa submitted its standalone application in October 2016. The community response was to set up a protection camp as a result. The applicant has retrospectively blamed the protection camp as the reason for their application.
3. Applicant has made no attempt to engage with the local community. Residents want to preserve a natural legacy for future generations.
4. Right of protest is within the constitution of democracy. Exercising of democracy does not require enhanced security measures.
5. The application should be rejected as it risks escalating tensions further between residents and the applicant.
Hazel Watson, Local Member, made the following points:
1. The proposal seeks to increase the well site area by 25%.
2. The fencing was not in-keeping with the landscape in an AONB. It would have an adverse impact on the landscape and on public enjoyment.
3. The proposed structures constituted inappropriate development on the Green Belt.
4. Asked the Committee to vote against the application.
Claire Brindley and Paul Foster, Applicants Agents, made the following points:
1. The application is for a temporary security fence and welfare facilities for the temporary exploratory well site that was granted planning permission in August 2015.
2. Security environment has changed significantly since the application was first submitted in 2008. It is standard industry practice to have enhanced security on sites and this need has been demonstrated with a protest camp being set up on site since October 2016.
3. The applicant has a duty of care to its workforce and the public by ensuring safety measures are in place.
4. No objection had been raised by the Surrey Hills AONB officer, except the importance to adhere to the 18 week timescale to mitigate impact.
5. The development would be wholly reversible, and the site would be restored for use by the Forestry Commission on cessation of exploratory activities.
6. The 28 vehicular movements for the delivery and collection of the fencing and facilities are to be considered as part of the Traffic Management Plan.
7. There would be no additional external lighting and a condition will be applied by officers to this effect.
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. There was some discussion around why the fencing application was not submitted as part of the Public Inquiry.
2. A Member suggested that welfare facilities at the site were required on a practical basis.
3. A Member highlighted that the Inspector’s judgement was based on the size of the original site and that this inclusion could have led to the Inspector’s refusal.
4. Members questioned how no further lighting can be needed if 24 hour security would be in operation. The case officer clarified that, as part of the light management plan that had already been approved by the Committee, lighting would be only be on 24 hours a day during the drilling phase due to health and safety requirements. Outside of the drilling phase, no lighting was permitted outside of the hours of 7:00am-6:00pm. The officer confirmed that the generator would be in operation 24 hours a day, which the noise consultant was satisfied with.
5. There was some discussion about the presence of Japanese knotweed on site and its treatment. The officer explained that the applicant had committed to spraying the Japanese Knotweed using approved chemicals in accordance with Condition 14 and Environment Agency requirements.
6. The Planning Development Manager read out paragraph 98 from the Inspectors appeal decision to address points of discussion about the increased size of the site.
Jeffrey Harris left the room at 12:40 and returned at 12:43, therefore did not take part in the vote.
7. The Chairman moved the recommendation to permit the application. There were seven votes for, two votes against; therefore the recommendation was carried and the application permitted.
That application MO/2016/1563- LAND AT BURY HILL WOOD, COLDHARBOUR LANE, HOLMWOOD, SURREY, RH5 6HN - be PERMITTED subject to the conditions and informatives outlined in the report.