Tue, 06 Feb 2018
HER Majesty’s Planning Inspectorate has promised a thorough investigation of claims that it was misled in the ‘battle of the knacker’s yard’.
The long-running dispute concluded with a planning inspector reversing West Berkshire Council’s refusal to relocate the operation, complete with horse carcass incinerator, from Turnpike Industrial Estate in Newbury to Great Shefford.
But some critics claim the inspector was acting on inaccurate information over the consequent threat to drinking water safety.
As previously reported, retired scientist Grahame Murphy – who has expertise in water chemistry and effluent control – wrote to the inspectorate rubbishing assurances that repeated flooding at the former Wessex Sawmill site was due to a blocked culvert.
He wrote: “These floods... are as a result of ground water coming up from a very large aquifer below the site.
“The on-site septic tank would be useless in conditions like this as it would be below water and not function.”
Now, Mr Murphy has received a reply from a ‘customer quality assistant’ at Her Majesty’s Planning Inspectorate, Kevin Plummer.
In it, Mr Plummer promised: “We will look into your points thoroughly.”
But his full response will be of little comfort to the hundreds who objected to the original application.
For the letter continues: “I should also explain that... we have no power to change or reconsider an inspector’s decision.”
Mr Plummer goes on: “Whatever the result of our investigations, if we find factual errors or other clear mistakes or omissions, we will say so and apologise and, under certain circumstances with certain types of casework, we may be able to correct minor slips such as typographical errors – (but) please note that we cannot change the outcome.
“Only a successful legal challenge in the High Court can lead to an inspector’s decision being quashed and reconsidered.”
He goes on to explain the time limit involved in taking such action and concludes: “We have no power to extend the court’s time limit, regardless of whether we have been able to give you a (full) reply before it expires.”
So far, none of the objectors has indicated they are prepared to take such a costly course of legal action.
West Berkshire Council, which twice refused a planning application to allow the operation to be sited in Great Shefford, has already indicated it is unwilling to do so.