Planning Appeal meeting 9 April – Proposed AD Plant Oulton airfield

The Chair, two Parish Councillors and a number of parishioners attended the planning appeal meeting on Wednesday 9 April 2014 held at Broadland District Council(BDC) offices. Also in attendance were 5 representatives for the Appellant and 4 from BDC. The Inspector spent a great deal of time reviewing a number of aspects, seeking clarification on the types of crop, the AD process, odour, transport, impact on the area, potential noise and the draft Section 106 traffic agreement to protect the northern part of Oulton Street.

During the discussions the Inspector allowed all those present to make comments – from the public as well as the main parties. The Parish Council and the BDC team were able to voice their concerns on the proposed development and to, where necessary, challenge the applicants on key aspects of their application. Strong arguments were made by the PC on the unsuitability of the road leading to the site from the Holt road for which the PC’s own traffic modelling software had provided evidence of potentially dangerous situations occurring during the harvest period. Furthermore, it was acknowledged by the applicants at this meeting that the harvest period could be extended with the use of grass and other crops which would be outside of the maize harvesting period.

The other key argument was on the loss of amenity impact for local residents and specifically the Railway Gatehouse cottage – technical arguments between the noise analysts on both sides provided the Inspector with differing views on the potential effects around the site should this development proceed. The owner of the Railway Gatehouse cottage was also present and able to inform the Inspector of her feelings and the true impact of this proposed development on her situation.

Following a break for lunch, the Inspector visited the existing Future Biogas AD site in Taverham to observe the workings of the plant and then held a meeting at the proposed Oulton site. The PC was again represented and was able to provide further background information in conjunction with the BDC and the applicants. The Inspector then walked from the site down the whole length of the C263 approach road to the B1149 Holt Road junction – checking with the plans where proposed passing places were to be established and seeking clarification from the Highways representative on technical issues. Some time was spent at the Holt Road junction where the speeds of passing traffic was observed and discussions on visibility occurred. The group then walked back to the proposed site and there being no further questions the meeting concluded.

The PC was very impressed with the way the Inspector conducted the events of the day but obviously have no idea what the likely decision will be. It is also not clear when the Inspector will make a decision on this matter – the process states a maximum timeframe of 26 weeks from the start date. This would take us to 7 August 2014, but we are hopeful that this matter will be determined before then. We will of course keep you informed.

Paul Killingback

Chair

Oulton Parish Council

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