The evening locals session began at 6:00 pm where locals were given the opportunity to present statements to the inquiry. First to present was Jessica Stacey representing the under 18’s community with a self-authored poem as her statement and a list of names of those under the voting age opposed to the development, as these individuals were unable to vote in the parish poll. There was a spontaneous round of applause at the end of her statement. The planning inspector reminded those observing of the need for quiet during proceedings, that applause is not appropriate. Her poem can be read here.
Next to present was Mr Andy Rowell with 20 years experience writing on environmental issues, including for the World Health Organisation, and a Research Fellow at the University of Bath. Mr Rowell took up issue with emissions and PM10 and PM2.5, reinforcing the evidence and concerns in Professor Drey’s expert witness statement earlier in the day. He referred to at least 5 new papers that had been published only in the last week that confirmed harm to human health of these particulates. His point was that science and research is not static, therefore a conclusion of no harm by MVV cannot be based on continually evolving research and knowledge. He cited examples of smoking and asbestos, and referred to a report published by DEFRA 3 years ago that stated ‘current evidence suggests there is NO SAFE LIMIT for exposure’. He questioned the air pollution model used by Dr Grey (a witness for MVV) to draw his conclusions as unreliable – for example, no mean modelling accounts for a cold, still day when a HGV diesel engine is idling. He requested the planning inspector apply the precautionary principle, a principle where there is a reasonable degree of uncertainty of potential or future harm.
Mr Westmoreland-Smith asked several questions about Mr Rowell’s statement to clarify that Dr Garry Grey, who gave evidence for MVV, did not use modelling exercises and had acknowledged in his statement that there is no environmental limit on PM2.5. Dr Grey’s assessment is based on some things having risks, which Mr Rowell pointed out was very different to MVV’s opening statement that there are no adverse health effects.
What was very illuminating however, should this development be allowed, it would not be on the basis of 25 years. 25 years relates to the operating contract of the Plymouth Waste Incinerator. The proposal before the inquiry is for permanent permission for the use of the land, i.e. it does not matter how long the incinerator runs.
Mr Dan Murphy presented next with evidence about noise and living conditions. Mr Murphy is a Civil Aviation Authority Licensed Engineer qualified in the testing of noise in aviation, with technical experience of noise testing equipment, modelling and engineering solutions. From his own personal experience at his home he made a statement about the noise from Gilpin’s activities and operations and how they are amplified due to the shape and nature of the quarry. He challenged the use of computer noise modelling, i.e. it can’t be trusted and different engineer get different results. He recently contacted Teignbridge District Council about the exceptionally loud noise of the hydraulic hammer (pecking hammer?) being used by Gilpin in the quarry. The Environmental Officer was unable to attend at the time the noise was noted. They did come to measure the noise but quite some time after Mr Murphy’s telephone call. Mr Murphy measured the noise using professional testing equipment and made a 30 seconds recording, which he played at the inquiry. The sound was recorded at 79 Db and played back at 79 Db. It was a valuable demonstration to which people could relate, as compared to noise represented in number measurements.
Mr Steven Bamford, a mechanical engineer, made a statement representing the Parents of Buckfastleigh Primary School, as well as Mark Maish, Caroline Hoare, Gill Shapland and others, particularly Little Ducklings Nursery. He stated concerns over increase in HGV traffic, air quality and specifically dust with emphasis toward the children and the adverse impact on local and rural tourism. He said just recently a local resident was unable to stand outside the site at the bus stop when Gilpin were operating due to the dust. Mr Bamford has asthma and is seriously concerned about his and others’ health in this regard. In addition, the owners of Little Ducklings Nursery reported dust issues to Environmental Health who have done nothing to date. The owners are seriously concerned for the health and well being of the children in their care as they are required to provide 2 to 3 hours a day of outdoor play, and their business will suffer if parents elect to take their children to other nursery facilities that are not located opposite a waste processing plant. He strongly expressed the dangers posed to human health if only protected by mitigation measures.
He challenged the current location of air quality measurement, cited local wind conditions as different from those in MVV’s documents, not taking local topography into account, and pointed out how the site itself will be radically different when raised (3 times the height of the primary school) therefore changing how winds and dust will move. Mr Bamford identified the potential for ineffectiveness in damping down dust when there are unpredictable changes in wind direction. In addition he questioned why other sensitive receptors have not been identified by MVV, particularly to do with Deptford Pink in areas adjacent to and surrounding the site because of the movement of dust and its chemical affects on plant surfaces and soil. He highlighted the fact that the settlement tanks are in Flood Zone 3. This is not in line with the site specific flood risk assessment. Therefore this makes it a use of land issue and not a permitting issue. He reinforced Mr Keegan’s statement that he cannot think of a less appropriate site for this proposal.
Mr Simon Rines questioned MVV’s assertion that the proposal would have no negative economic impact on the community. He used Settle in North Yorkshire to draw parallels where the study there concluded that for regeneration of the Settle the HGV traffic needed to be reduced not just in the town centre but in the overall area. Mr Westmoreland-Smith questioned just how accurate Settle is as a comparator to Buckfastleigh, and he pointed to the traffic assessment that pedestrians could easily cross the B3380 in Buckfastleigh.
Next, Mr. Richard Christie stated concerns for the survival of his nursery business with the increase of HGV traffic that would accompany the proposed development. He gave personal evidence of a short-term increase in HGVs a few years ago that led to a loss of custom – previous customers decided to stay away as they were fearful and disturbed by the HGVs. Mr Christie clearly stated that if this proposal goes ahead he would undoubtedly have to close his business and move.
Mr. Andrew Rudgley, Chair of the Orchard Millennium Green and presenting the views of the Trustees of the registered charity that looks after this public space, presented concerns over pedestrian and road safety when accessing the green, emissions from HGV diesel engines (air quality and noise) and the detrimental affect this will have on the enjoyment of this valued public space that for all intents and purposes is the village green for the community. Mr Rudgley has long experience with diesel emissions in the marine sector.
Mr. Anthony Goldsworthy then went into expert detail regarding alternative sites, having 35 years experience in the waste industry. He mentioned sites such as Chelsea Meadow, which is identified in the Plymouth Waste Plan and the land is owned by Plymouth City Council. It has capacity; it already handles in excess of 220m tons of waste per annum. Another site mentioned was Lee Moor where there is planning already granted for waste treatment and is in close proximity to the Plymouth Waste Incinerator. In addition he mentioned Gilbarton near Exeter.
In light of Mr Goldworthy’s statement the planning inspector stated that this is something the inquiry would need to come back to. For some reason, Mr Miles (the planning consultant for MVV) did not receive all the paperwork submitted even though other parties had received all the paperwork. Mr Miles was not present. The planning inspector stated that he will visit sites after the inquiry, and that it would be helpful to have an OS map for identification of these sites. He asked Mr Goldworthy if he was able to come back and give evidence. Mr Goldworthy said yes, he was available and would give further evidence at the inquiry.
The inquiry day ended with the evidence of Dr. Peter Edwards. Dr Edwards wanted to be a witness to attest to the fact of the problem of very fine dust infiltrating a home with windows closed. He could not recall exactly if the windows were double glazed but they were definitely shut. He attended the home of a sufferer of severe chronic obstruction whose condition was dangerously affected by the very fine dust from the quarry that had somehow made its way into the home. The dust was so fine it was almost imperceptible to the eye – it was only when the wife of Dr Edward’s patient pulled a piece of tape she had placed on the window ledge that he could clearly see the evidence of a very fine dust. He wanted to highlight this as an example of what did happen and could happen again with adverse affects on people’s health in Buckfastleigh.
The inquiry will resume tomorrow, 11 July, at ten o’clock.