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FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT....

 

SECRETARY OF STATE MAKES DECISION

16th October 2006

As supporters of a long-running campaign to save a beautiful Oxfordshire lake from needless
destruction at the hands the operators of Didcot ‘A’ Power Station, we are deeply disappointed by the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, not to call in the planning application, by RWE npower, to use Thrupp Lake, at Radley as a dump for
waste fuel ash, and to refer the decision back to Oxfordshire County Council.


A very small number of applications referred as departures from planning policy are actually
called in, and the fact that the government has not called in this one is not an endorsement of
Oxfordshire County Council’s resolution to grant planning permission. The campaign group,
Save Radley Lakes, feels that Oxfordshire County Council needs to be made more accountable
to its electorate. During the very extensive public consultation over this planning application, a
huge number of comments were received from members of the public, the overwhelming
majority of which were against the proposal. Records, in the public domain, of meetings and
correspondence between RWE npower and Oxfordshire County Council officers, show that there
was, right from the start, a presumption that planning permission should be granted, and this
presumption was maintained in the face of both public opinion and local planning policy. The
decision was effectively taken, by officers, before the consultation started, and the planning
committee, as is customary, summarily endorsed this decision at its meeting on July 10. The
opinions of local people, combined with a great deal of technical evidence pointing out the harm
that would be caused and the availability of better alternatives, have been largely ignored.
Save Radley Lakes has made a complaint of maladministration against OCC over their handling
of the planning application, and this will now be investigated by the Local Government
Ombudsman


The stated policy of central Government is not to interfere with matters under the jurisdiction of
local planning authorities, unless planning issues of more than local importance are involved. In
this instance, the conclusion is that there is not sufficient conflict with national policies on
matters such as safeguarding the green belt, meeting national and international responsibilities
for nature conservation, waste management and protection of open spaces, to justify taking the
decision away from Oxfordshire County Council. That the issues raised do not relate to matters
of more than local importance is a conclusion that Save Radley Lakes finds incomprehensible -
the environmental problems such as CO2 emissions and waste dumping caused by coal fired
power stations are clearly of national importance.


The Secretary of State is at pains to point out that, in making her decision, she did not consider
the adequacy of the Environmental Impact Assessment produced in support of the application
and considers this to be entirely the responsibility of Oxfordshire County Council. Save Radley
Lakes therefore calls upon Oxfordshire County Council to re-examine its decision in the light of
this statement, and to give more careful consideration to the need for the proposal, especially in
the light of the availability of alternatives that have not been fully addressed by the
Environmental Impact Assessment, and the exaggerations of the detrimental effects of not
granting permission.


Save Radley Lakes would like to remind Oxfordshire County Council of its accountability to its
electorate. The interests of 2 million electricity consumers would apparently outweigh the
concerns of even the many thousands of objectors, but the presumption that many, if not most, of
those consumers want their electricity at the cost of needless damage to the environment purely
to serve the convenience and commercial interests of a money-grabbing foreign private company
is unwarranted in the extreme. Oxfordshire County Council has failed to distinguish between the
interests of the Company and its shareholders and those of its customers.
Very many people deplore this decision by Oxfordshire County Council. Save Radley Lakes has
not given up the struggle.

Additional Information

RWE npower, whilst paying lip service to being a ‘good neighbour’ and caring for the
environment, is actually prepared to destroy a much loved, beautiful local lake and rich wildlife
habitat by filling it with fly ash. They like to say there is no alternative, apparently forgetting that
the Power Station stands just a few metres away from a huge empty gravel pit already licensed
for waste disposal. They like to say that, without the ability to use of Thrupp Lake, 500 lorry
loads of ash a week will hit local roads, apparently unable to work out that this much ash would
fill Thrupp Lake in a year, not the nine years they promise it will last!


Given the political will, this ash could all be recycled into building materials. Technologies exist
that would recycle ash whether wet or dry, even ash that has been previously dumped. Fly ash
can now be turned into lightweight bricks with no waste i.e. no dumping. Using fly ash in
construction materials would save unsightly quarrying of alternative materials like limestone and
gravel, save carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the waste being dumped in landfill.


There will be massive new markets for building materials in the near future. The government is
planning a huge house building programme in the South East. An estimated 2-3 million tonnes of
"bricks and mortar" per year will be required to meet the demand for house construction; roads
and other infrastructure could easily double this figure. There is also the huge amount of
construction materials needed for the London Olympics. Where will it all come from?


Digging up our country side, importing materials and dredging the sea bed for gravel are all
environmentally very unfriendly options. So is dumping ash in a pristine wildlife site.
Using fly ash in construction materials could provide society and our planet with a win-win
solution to both these problems. How very sad that the government has ducked the issue yet
again!


18 October 2006

For further information
Contact the Webmaster
admin@saveradleylakes.org.uk

 

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