Local Impact Report – Bedford Borough & Central Beds Councils Consultation re Covanta

Covanta Resource Recovery Facility Proposal at Rookery South Pit, Stewartby, Bedford – Local Impact Report

Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council will be formally consulted by the IPC when it considers the Covanta proposal.

As part of the new procedures for dealing with major applications submitted to the IPC (or successor determining authority) there is a requirement on the local authority to produce what is known as a ‘Local Impact Report’ – or LIR. The site of the proposed Covanta scheme lies mainly within Central Bedfordshire but parts, in particular the access road, lie within Bedford Borough Council area. Therefore both authorities are tasked with preparing an LIR and this will be co-ordinated by the Minerals and Waste Planning Team (hosted by Central Bedfordshire) which provides a shared service to both authorities.

The LIR is a Report giving details of the likely impact of the proposed development on the authority’s area and is prepared whether or not the local authority considers that the development would have a positive or negative effect on their area. It is intended to be a statement of the positive, negative and neutral local impacts and may provide an indication of the relative importance of different social, environmental or economic issues and the impact of the scheme on them. For example the relative importance of additional jobs created by the proposal against an increase in the level of traffic movements in the local area.

An LIR is something completely new to the planning process and is a way in which the IPC can pick up local issues or factual information which may not have been adequately reflected or drawn out in the formal submission for the development proposal. The examples given by the IPC are local evidence of flooding, local social or economic issues or local knowledge of travel patterns to community facilities. In this instance it might include such matters as local temperature inversions and the impact these may have on emissions from the stack and on the local community given the experiences with emissions from the chimneys at the former brickworks on the surrounding area.

There is no fixed format or content for a LIR provided it falls within the general definition. However, it must be stressed that it not just a case of saying ‘I object’ but, instead, attempting to set out those issues that are of particular relevance to the local area – whether positive or negative.

The IPC has indicated possible topic areas and these are set out below. Taking these topics some suggestions are put forward as matters that the local community may feel should be included as having an impact locally and are not, necessarily, adequately reflected or given sufficient importance in the formal submission for the application. The list is not exhaustive. There may be other issues of equal or greater importance or of more relevance to local residents.

Possible topic areas:

Site description and surroundings/location

• Are there any particular points about the proximity of the site to Marston Moreteyne, Stewartby and surrounding communities, local housing or to the Forest Centre or other local facilities that should be put forward?

Details of the proposal

• Building and stack locally prominent – is this important? Should the stack be the same colour as the brickworks chimneys?

• Design sensitivity – differences between the design of this building and, for example, the proposed Nirah building. Should the design have reflected the Nirah building?

Relevant planning history and any issues arising

• History of the area for brickmaking and waste disposal. Area has been subjected to emissions from the brickworks and ongoing import of waste for many years. Now that brickmaking has ceased and the area has started to be rejuventated by the creation of the Forest Park does the local community want waste to be imported from other than the local area for processing?

Relevant development plan policies, supplementary planning guidance or documents, development briefs or approved master plans and an appraisal of their relationship and relevance to the proposals

• Site is currently put forward for more local waste management facilities and landfilling – is it important locally that this would be a large facility taking waste from a much greater catchment area than Bedfordshire? If so why? i.e waste has been imported from London for many years and its time to stop this especially as the area is being rejuvenated.

Relevant development proposals under consideration or granted permission but not commenced or completed

• Is there a need for such a large facility when there are other schemes for waste processing built or being proposed in the Bedford area?

Local area characteristics such as urban and landscape qualities and nature conservation sites

• Opportunities for planting off site relies on will of landowners – are there examples of where this may be difficult to achieve?

• Are there sufficient off site planting opportunities to ensure that panoramic views especially from historic buildings in the locality are not badly affected ?

• Temperature inversions – how they may affect emissions from the stack and impact on the local area. Has this been adequately considered?

• The possibility of improved restoration of the site -a county wildlife site – beyond that required by the old mineral permission; improved public access; improved management of areas of ecological significance

Local transport patterns and issues

• Operations commencing at 5am so that HGV’s can access/exit site from that time each day. Possibility of ongoing disturbance as a result on the local community?

• The condition of local roads and need for ongoing maintenance given heavy vehicular use – possible impact on other users such as cyclists

• Freight routing – is this an issue?

• Possibility of improved links for cyclists

• Improvements to the local rail stations

• Improved footpath links

• Improved linkages between the Rookery pit and the Forest Centre/Millenium Park

Site and area constraints

• Has noise only been considered in terms of ‘average’ levels so has adequate account been taken of intermittent noise such as that from rattling of empty HGV’s which may be considered to be intrusive? Examples of this locally when activities at the Proving Ground or clay extraction? Where in the locality is this a particular problem?

Designated sites

• Opportunities to improve the quality of the County Wildlife Site

Socio-economic and community matters

• Job opportunities – are the type of jobs being created sought after in the local area? Is job creation seen as a benefit?

• Would new jobs be taken up by local workers or go to others? Is this important locally?

• Has the demand for housing as a result of the new jobs being created been taken into account? Is this important locally?

• Creation of a visitor centre so that local people can see what is being done to reduce waste

MMAG and supporters in the community are well placed to help make a contribution to the LIR.

However, it is likely that the LIR will have to be completed within a six week period at the start of August – so we need to be quick !

This is our opportunity to put forward our views on the local impact of the proposal.

Comments to :

Susan Marsh
Principal Minerals & Waste Planning Officer
Shared Service for Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils
Central Bedfordshire Council
Priory House
Monks Walk
Shefford SG17 5TG