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STEETLEY WOBURN BENTONITE LTD 

Steetley Woburn Bentonite lost its appeal against the refusal of planning permission for mining fullers earth at Wavendon Heath and a High Court bid to overturn that decision.

THE STORY 

Protesters with the threatened ridge in the background

The planning application had serious implications for Bow Brickhill as it was intended to close Longslade Lane for nineteen months. Longslade Lane is the other end of Church Road which would have meant that Church Road became one of only two available routes for those wishing to reach the centre of the woods or the golf course. 

The Campaign to Protect Woburn and District from Open Cast Mining mounted a protest against the proposals and Bedfordshire County Council refused planning permission for the mining development.  The presence of the protestors was mentioned during the debate. A large crowd turned up on a very cold day


The Findings of the Appeal

The Inspector  found that:

  1. the development would have an unacceptable overall impact on the local landscape and the Greensand Ridge AGLV both in the short term during excavation of fuller's earth and in the long term following the restoration of the site.  As a result the development would conflict with the Policy 7 of the BSP and Policy MW16 and, to a lesser degree, Policy MK18 of the MWLP;

  2. the proposals conflict with the aim of Policy 4(ii), to protect the CWS, and with Policy MK17, because the impact of the excavation proposals on the wildlife interest on the site would be significant;

  3. no harm has been found to the settings of the listed buildings, or to the character or appearance of the Woburn Conservation Area and, on this ground, there is no reason to withhold the grant of planning permission;

  4. the evidence does not show that there is a clear and genuine need for the extraction to take place because of any "unique" contribution WB makes to the paper-making industry either in the UK or world-wide.  There is adequate evidence to conclude that if WB were to be no longer available, alternatives to meet the need for highly efficient retention and drainage aids exist, whether these be in the form of alternative bentonite resources or in the form form of synthetic products.  As such, there is no need for the development to set against the harm found in issues i and ii above;

  5. there are no other material considerations which either support or undermine the conclusions reached on the main issues.

 

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