- In 1982 CEGB given planning
conditional permission to fill disused Gravel Pits in Radley (using
a method that is no longer permitted.) with Pulverised Fuel Ash
- The history of the two
lakes has been established as follows:
1947: Excavation of 5 acres in NW corner of Lake E (Thrupp
1951: Permission given to excavate remainder of Lake E.
1955: Permission given to excavate Lake F (Bullfield) given and
revoked in the same year.
1963: Excavation of Lake F begun (without permission).
Lake E, Thrupp Lake, therefore dates back 60 years while Lake
F(Bullfield) is 44 years old.
Lake E was briefly dewatered for reworking in early/mid 1970s
and temporarily dewatered again in Spring of 1992.
Most of the other lakes were, we are given to believe, dug in
the 1970s and 1980s. Aerial
, purportedly taken in 1978, but probably later - early 1980s
- show most of the lakes (except G, J , P) in existence.
- NPower say these gravel
pits were dug for their use. This is not true.
- The various quarry owners
just dug the gravel out to sell to the building trade although
by 1982 (when planning permissions were already in place for gravel
extraction) they would have been aware of OCCs longer-term plans
for the area.
- Any quarries created prior
to 1982 (most of them) were dug for commercial reasons other than
flyash dumping. A-D, for example, were meant to be restored to
agriculture and there was no thought then for turning them into
toxic waste dumps.
- It is possible (probable)
that the rapid finishing off of H/I by Curtis was 'influenced'
by Npower (this quarry was dug from 1970 to c. 2000, i.e., extremely
slowly with a rapid finishing
off in the late 1990s).
- The reason why H/I was
dug so slowly was partly due to his gravel extraction on the south
side of Abingdon and because the gravel at H/I was covered in
'concretions' and contained thick layers of
peat etc within the gravel column.
- The lake known as Longmead (opposite Sophos) was dug from 1997
by Tuckwell's (their last consent) with no possibility that after
use would be for flyash - the planning permission clearly states
it must be restored to nature and this process is well under way.
Npower refer to this lake in their Environmental Statement and
reject its use as a flyash dump because it is too small.
- G, J and P were dug after 1985. The AAAHS were excavating down
there in advance of gravel extraction. These pits were probably
dug with the knowledge that Npower would fill them up with flyash.
Excavations were still ongoing in 1990-1 and probably were completed
by 1999 or thereabouts.
- The Curtis gravel pits on the south side of Abingdon are on
the floodplain and cannot be used for flyash dumping (although
a 'deal' with OCC might facilitate the process).
- A question has been posed that if the gravel lake F was dug
out for Npower why was Curtis filling it in with building rubble
in the middle 1980s?
- PFA also known as fly-ash
is a very fine grey powder ( with a
bulk density of 1.2 - 1.7 g/cc. It consists mainly of a glassy
material whose principal constituents are silica, alumina, iron
and calcium. 2%-5% is soluble in water. Particles are generally
rounded and in the 10 micron range. The actual ash composition
depends on the type and origin of the coal and the conditions
under which it is burnt)
- A Public meeting was called
and the idea that the land would be returned to agriculture was
accepted by the residents, with the proviso that two lakes would
be retained as an amenity.
- NPower took over from
CEGB but have denied any agreement to leave an amenity, but have
agreed leave two “lakes” – areas previously assigned to gravel
extraction - that do not exist! This offer has subsequently
been "improved upon" to donate a puddle in one corner
of Lake £ and some land with public access near the Bullfield
Lake. Not a fair exchange at all for 4 million tonnes of
fuel ash and a waste-land landcape.
- The CEGB stated they would
need to use the ashfill facility for about eight years and argued
that Didcot Coal Power Station would be taken out of service after
that, and the ash-disposal facility would no longer be needed.
- The CEGB agreed to build
a dry ash bund (a container) on land adjacent to the Power Station
in order to stockpile ash for recycling.
- The ash bund was demolished
when the Gas fuelled Station (Didcot B) was built, which was to
take over from the Coal fuelled Station.(Didcot A)
- The stockpile would have
held approximately what they are now planning to dump in Radley
- The CEGB said 23 years
ago they had acquired land adjacent to the Power Station and were
looking to set up a commercial reselling operation to dispose
of fuel ash to the Construction Industry. NPower have only just
started to consider this option, even though their Best Practice
policy back in 2001 implied that they were actually doing this.
- The Gas-fuelled Station
is used, they say, but it is cheaper to burn cheap dirty coal.
- The coal comes from various
places across the world where the extraction is cheap and the
Health and Safety Rules are non-existent. Didcot have said
they get their coal from South America , South Africa and Australia
. People who work at Didcot have told otherwise.
- The cheap coal contains
more heavy metal contamination than British Coal which was burnt
up until the decline of the British Coal Industry.
- NPower have applied since
taking over for variations in the Planning Application, and the
quantity of ash dumped is far in excess of that agreed under the
- The Environment Agency
insisted at the last planning application (2001) that different
measures should be taken to ensure containment of the PFA. This
means heavy clay bunds are constructed on the site which stop
leachate entering the ground water.
- Oxfordshire County Council
did not ensure proper planning processes were undertaken in previous
applications, e.g. carrying out a proper Ecological Assessment
or Environmental Impact Assessment, in 2001.
- The area was de-listed
as a County Wildlife Site in error and has not been re-instated
by the County Council for reasons which we have been unable to
- The area is rich in wildlife,
including Red Book Protected Species and species and their habitats
that are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (schedules
1-5) and the European Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC.
- The County Council Officers
initially appeared only interested in "mitigation".
Mitigation is where you save a few seeds and plant them close
by and hope that they grow to replace the trees and plants that
will be decimated if NPower get their way. You rescue a few amphibians
and mammals but because of their homing instinct, they migrate
back to their deaths in the poisonous sludge that takes the place
of their habitat. The Officers were looking
at the Planning Application as if it were a "done deal"
and had not scrutinised the proposals thoroughly enough to notice
that there were plenty of grounds for refusal.
- The Environment Agency
have received complaints about the pollution from the ash fill
- Oxfordshire County Council
has received a planning application to vary the terms of the previous
planning consents granted. This Planning Application went out
to Public Consultation until early August 2005.
- The public were kindly
given additional time until the end of August 2005, because this
Action Group had made representations to Oxfordshire County Council
about the complexity of the application. The Environment
Agency objected to the first planning application in August 2005
but the Officer who objected suddenly found himself transferred
- Faced with huge public
opposition on an unprecedented scale and an objection from the
Environment Agency that the infilling would compromise the flood
plain, NPower put this application into abeyance October 2005. .
They have now put in a brand new application which did not receive
such a forceful objection from the EA. Perhaps pressure
was brought to bear from on high.
- Oxfordshire County Council
granted permission after referral to the Government Ministry DCLG.
Strangely Ruth Kelly wrote to Anne Widdecombe saying she was investigating
the matter on the same day as her Officers (GOSE) sent the planning
application back to Oxfordshire County Council to determine.
- Oxfordshire CC finally
gave planning permission in January 2007 but conditions attached
(conditions precedent) have still not been agreed due to problems
with various aspects of nPower's plans - seems they didn't get
their figures right in some respects.
- The EA have confirm the
IPCC licence for Lakes A-D but NPower have to submit a new application
for Thrupp Lake before they can dump ash.
- NPower cut down trees
at Radley lakes without a proper consent from the Forestry Commission.
- An application has been
accepted by Oxfordshire County Council to make the area
a Town Green. The public inquiry into this application took
place in April and June 2007.
- NPower don't see any merit
in the Town Green Application
- The Environment Agency
are holding the Government Line that PFA is non-hazardous.
- PFA is as non-hazardous
as Portland cement when it is dry.
- It is recycled into building
materials by other power stations. Good quality PFA makes excellent
concrete and is cheaper than Portland Cement – and more environmentally
friendly. However its classification as “waste” encourages disposal
and discourages reuse.
- London Power Stations
export their fuel ash to Countries who do not have aggregates
which they can extract themselves.
- Didcot Power Station only
recycles 45% of its waste fuel ash.
- PFA contains many possible
contaminants, many of which are concentrated by the burning process.
- Heavy metals (arsenic,
cadmium, chromium, vanadium and lead,) are known to be present
and have been measured (by the Environment Agency ( EA)) in discharged
water at concentrations around 0.2mg/l. Boron and some light metals
are present in even greater amounts, with Boron concentrations
reaching several g/l. The concentrations can always be reduced
to below maximum permitted levels by dilution but at the expense
of consuming more water. The stuff still goes into the environment
where it is subject to bioaccumulation and biomagnification by
plants and animals.
- Reactive metals, including
those on the above list, are released when the PFA is mixed with
water to form a slurry. This contaminated water is hazardous to
the environment, which is why the regulations have changed requiring
installation of bunds and clay linings to prevent leaching into
groundwater. Nevertheless they still deny that the stuff is toxic.
This water is passed into the Thames .
- The Environment Agency
are monitoring only on a narrow range of parameters. They are
not including all heavy and light metal contaminants which may
be dangerous when allowed to accumulate in the environment.
- The continued disposal
of fuel ash to landfill is questionable under EU Regulations which
this Government has not yet enforced. It is illegal to landfill
fuel ash in most of Europe and the USA .
- Even India forbids landfill
- Current research including
that by UK Universities, e.g. Derby University , shows that this
material is bio-accumulative in plants and that the conversion
into slurry exacerbates the release of contaminants into the environment.
The ash is then settled out, and the waste water, (now contaminated)
is drained into the river system.
- The County Medical Officer
for Health is taking the Government Line that PFA is “Non-Hazardous”.
Although Dr. Messenger is now asking for further information on
the risks associated with PFA.
- The huge proportion of
fuel ash adjacent to the River Thames has compromised the flood
plain. The Environment Agency have objected to the Planning
Application on this basis. The area is shown in old maps
as being "subject to flooding".
- The Environment Agency
objected on the grounds of flooding on the last infill but agreed
to flood gates being installed on Lake H/I. However, flooding
in 2003 showed these to be ineffective.
- Local residents fear their
homes will be at risk and their property devalued. Some local
residents are already unable to obtain insurance because of the
previous flooding in 2003.
- Local people are fearful
that the contaminants contained in the huge ash lagoons could
be released by severe flooding and cause enormous damage to the
environment. Some of the elements contained in the waste are carcinogenic.
- Local conservations are
angry that RWE NPower is not observing the requirements under
the Countryside and Wildlife Act which prevents species and their
habitats from being destroyed. It took a legal letter from SRL's
Solicitor to bring a halt the pre-preparation works planned to
be undertaken in early August. The Council had believed
this work was able tobe carried out.
- They thought and NPower
believed they could commence work before planning consent (variation)
was considered. They were relying on the old 1982 permission and
subsequent variations to start work before consultation has been
completed. However, it has been pointed out to them by SRL Solicitors
that this will put them in contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside
Act (1981) and the European Habitats directive (92/43/EEC). It
is likely that they have not read the Ecological Assessment that
they commissioned. This is dated the month after their planning
application was submitted.
- If the disposal is allowed
to go ahead, it is unlikely that the land will be returned to
any sort of amenity use for at least 20 years. This has been the
experience with the lakes that were filled in the 1980s.
- A topical issue is the
use of water in the ash disposal process. Water is needed to make
up the slurry and dilute the effluent. . A volume of water
many times greater than that of the lakes is therefore consumed
by the process. We estimate approximately one Gigalitre of water
(1,000,000,000 litres) is contaminated in this way per year. This
is approximately 10% of the capacity of a large reservoir.
- Thames Water, was until
recently a sister company of Npower.
- Didcot Power Station also
emits into the atmosphere each year, up to 1,000 tonnes of PFA
dust and 15,000,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide. It is
one of the dirtiest power stations in Britain. It was made
to clean up its emissions by the environment agency, but unfortunately,
in so doing, the EA rules have made the ash less acceptable to
the concrete industry.
- NPower have only recently
invested in one ash treatment plant to recycle the inefficiently
burnt coal. This means the coal is processed so that it
can be pushed through the burning cycle with fresh coal.
However, only one machine treating a fraction of the ash is too
little too late.
- The Environment Agency
have reissued the maps showing areas at risk from flooding.
- Didcot said they had burnt
more coal in the first 3 months of 2005 than ever before.
This is because the price of gas has gone up and it is cheaper
to burn their low cost coal. Also, the Gas Powered Station
suffered a turbine loss last December and they haven't got it
back on line yet. Therefore, they have to burn coal to maintain
their tariff. They must be sitting on a huge pile of fuel
ash as a result. Perhaps they now will knuckle down and
- Didcot Power Station boasted
in early April 2006 that they had produced more electricity from
coal then ever before. Sadly, this also produces more ash,
and anyone who drove past Didcot Power Station in 2005 could see
the heap of ash sitting on the site. We wanted to know how
much ash there is in that pile - as according to their planning
application, there should only be 60,000 tonnes, a pimple compared
to the huge mound which is evident in September 2005 - we think
the ash pile is more like 200,000 tonnes and growing. Do
the really expect us to believe that the ashfill of Lake E will
last for 10 years, when they have accumultated this amount of
ash in the last twelve months, and misled the planners about how
long the ash fill of Lake E will take? We were not born
yesterday - some of us were born when decency and honour were
things to be proud of, unlike this Company who think they can
shaft everyone and get away with it to pay the corporate shareholders
of RWE NPower.
- Oxfordshire County Council
officers railroaded through the planning application despite the
wealth of objections and brushed aside queries from their own
Councillors as being irrelevant.
- Ruth Kelly's department
for Local Government has referred the planning application back
to Oxfordshire County Council with the view that they created
the problem, they can solve it.
- Waste Recycling Group
found they had more space than they thought in their big hole
next to the Power Station. In December 2006 a planning application
was notified by OCC asking for approval to extend the life of
WRG's operations and for more lorry movements to allow more rubbish
to be put into their under-estimated hole. Strangely, the
officers knew of this overlarge hole in July 2006 but said nothing
to the Planning Committee or Ruth Kelly - perhaps they didn't
realise the hole was right outside the Power Station's premises
- perhaps they thought it was in another part of Oxfordshire -
and perhaps that is being too kind to them! Some people
are asking questions as to why the Officers failed to notify the
Planning Committee of this space. Instead, at a time when
people are considering other things,(Christmas) a planning application
slips into the system and no doubt would have meant a delegated
decision by the planning officer for WRG to get their permission,
NPower get there's and OCC thinking it was a good time to bury
- 8th January 2007, NPower
get their permission from Oxfordshire County Council despite having
the opportunity to revisit the application. Rumour has it
that OCC were afraid of being sued by NPower - Are they the big
Corporate Bully using their muscle to get their own way?
February 2007, NPower send in Thugs to evict Settlers
from Sandles. The Eviction was not peaceful as NPower had
stated, but carried out with methods reminscent of a Gestapo Operation
with thugs shattering plate glass windows with sledgehammers and
showing occupants with glass in the early hours of the morning.
February 2007 Injunction served stopping people photographing.
The EPUK Reporter has an
- after which NPower send
in men with Chain Saws and without a permit they cut down about
200 mature trees much to the disgust and anger of the local population.
- 1st March NPower stop
work and blame a coot's nest which was conveniently found, when
prior to this their contractors had destroyed other nests thinking
they were not being filmed but they were. There were people
prepared to breach the injunction to record NPower's activities.
- 2nd April to 5th April.
Public Inquiry held but only half the witnesses schedule to attend
are heard. Inquiry postponed to 20th June for 3 days.
- 17th April Peter
Harbour goes to Court as a named Defendant on an injunction issued
by the High Court obtained by April in February 2007 just after
the squatters were evicted.
- 28th April Lawyers
acting for Peter Harbour and some of the other Defendants obtain
a variation to the injunction. The Lawyers could not get
it lifted because one of the Defendants, Ant Bailey, is ill and
was not in court. The Judge could not act until he had obtained
legal aid and was represented. NPower claim it is all their
work that the injunction is watered down. However this bit
of spin is wasted since Peter Harbour saw their revised terms
which were still as draconian as the previous ones. Thanks
to Liberty Lawyers the injunction has been reduced in terms and
size and now allows people to protest, photograph but not publish
the identities of NPower's staff.
- 21st May 2007 Oxfordshire
County Council Planning Committee decide to give permission to
Waste Recycling Group to extend their operations and to allow
thousands of lorry movements to fill a big hole that they suddenly
found they had, despite the fact that the same planning committee
argued that if they didn't give NPower planning permission to
fill Thrupp Lake, there would be an unacceptable increase in lorry
movements. What rank hypocrisy.
- May 2007 Petition made
in January 2007 to the EU is accepted as valid for further investigation.
- June 2007 Public Inquiry
re-opens. Inspector's report promised by end August
- July 2007 SRL attempt
a legal challenge of the planning application which was being
finally considered by the PRC.
- September 2007 SRL attempt
to have the loss of Radley Lakes and the potential effects considered
as part of the Environment Agency review of the July 2007 floods.
- October 2007 Mr.
Chapman, the Inspector, gives his report.
- November 2007 Oxfordshire
poised to decide but a legal challenge is made on the decision
by Mr. Chapman not to recommend Town Green Status. Planning
Meeting deferred whilst Oxfordshire consider their position
- January 2008 Oxfordshire
County Council decide to ignore legal advice and refuse Town Geen
Status to the application made by Jo Cartmell to have the area
declared a village green.
- 9th February 2008 Huge support at public meeting for Judicial
- 18th February 2008 NPower state they don't need the lake - immediately
- but they might do in the future
- 28th February 2008 Radley Parish Council vote to go for the
Judicial Review as the last ditch chance to get the area declared
a Town/Village Green.
- July 2008 WRG are granted permission by Oxfordshire County Council
to store ash from didcot Power Station at at their site in Sutton
Courtenay. They will take all the ash the Power Station
has surplus to requirements until the Power Station closes in
- December 2008 NPower announce finally that they have changed
their plans to dump ash at Thrupp Lake.
- February 2009 Judicial Review due to be heard. Postponed
until May 2009
- May 2009 Judicial Review Process to be withdrawn following NPower's
annouoncement that Northmoor Trust have been selected to manage
the area as a wild life conservation site.
- March 2010 - started work at Sandles, general rubbish clearance.
Regular work parties to take place over 2010 until construction
work start in 2011.
main concerns were:
- Loss of a valuable amenity
- Loss of or damage to an
important and interesting wildlife area. Vole and his friends
will be homeless.
- Pollution risks
- Flooding risks
- That large corporations
are allowed to flout environmental and wildlife legislation with
- Lack of proper concern
for these issues by officers of the County Council
- This raises serious questions
about the way environmental and wildlife protection policies are
implemented and enforced in this Country .This issue is therefore
of national as well as local importance. If they can get away
with this, then they can get away with anything.
- Natural England were too
busy changing their name from English Nature to consider the site
worthy of designation as a Triple SI (Site of Special Scientific
Interest) They had a ten year case load and couldn't take
on any more sites.
- The lack of regular monitoring
visits by Environment Agency Inspection Staff - they don't have
enough of them apparently.
- The lack of governance
by the Local Authority and the abdication of various responsibilities
amongst other Agencies.
- The lack of respect NPower
has shown to the public and the residents of Radley and West Abingdon.
- The fact that 11,500 petitioners'
and 3,500 objectors' wishes have been ignored by OCC.
- OCC have acted solely
in the interests of NPower. A complaint has been lodged
with the Ombudsman who is remarkably slow to respond.
- That there was a feasible
alternative but it was not fully investigated until the Campaign
took action to make the area a Town Green.
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