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November 20, 2017

Plan to dump asbestos in old quarry is under scrutiny

A PUBLIC inquiry which will decide whether thousands of tonnes of asbestos and other waste can be dumped in a Chew Valley quarry has begun.

Thousands of local residents opposed the plan and there was concern that the waste could contaminate streams which feed into Chew Valley Lake, which provides Bristol’s drinking water.

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    Some of the people who are protesting against the possible dumping of asbestos in Stowey Quarry

Bath and North East Somerset Council refused permission for Stowey Quarry to be used as a dump, prompting the quarry’s owner Larry Edmunds to appeal.

This triggered the inquiry chaired by Government planning inspector Brian Cook at Fry’s Conference Centre in Keynsham.

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More than 4,000 people signed a petition against the scheme.

Their concerns include the implications of large quantities of asbestos being transported across the area and dumped in the quarry, as well as contamination to the water supply.

The inquiry got off to a slow start yesterday when Mr Edmunds proposed an amendment to his application.

His original application included dumping “stable non-reactive hazardous waste” as well as asbestos and inert waste into the quarry.

His amended proposal was to no longer dump this kind of waste – which includes leachable substances and organic content – but still to dump asbestos and inert waste.

Mr Edmunds’ legal representative, Vincent Fraser, explained that his amended proposal would mean objections from the council and the Environment Agency about the possible danger to the water supply from hazardous waste would no longer be relevant.

A legal representative for the council confirmed it would no longer be opposing the appeal if the amendment was accepted by the inspector.

Paul Stookes, representing Stowey Sutton Action Group, said residents would continue to be against the application, as they still had concerns about asbestos and inert waste being dumped in the quarry.

Mr Cook agreed to allow the amendment to the proposal, but refused to grant Mr Edmunds’ representatives an adjournment, which they wanted so that they could gather further evidence.

However, Mr Cook was told that one of the key witnesses giving evidence for Mr Edmunds was unable to attend the inquiry on Thursday, currently scheduled to be its final day.

Mr Cook said he would go ahead but warned that if the inquiry ran over two days he may not be able to complete it until November.

It would then mean that a decision would not be known until April.

Opening submissions were heard yesterday from Mr Fraser and Mr Stookes.

Mr Fraser told the inspector: “Mr Edmunds’ proposal is now to dump asbestos and inert waste into Stowey Quarry.

“It is a former quarry in need of restoration and asbestos waste can only be dealt with via landfill – this is an appropriate location for the deposition of that type of waste.

“What the action group hasn’t established is that the proposal would change the position that already exists.

“Mr Edmunds has already got planning permission to dump certain kinds of waste in the quarry and doesn’t believe this application would cause any additional impact.

“It is not accepted that objectors raise any issue that is relevant to the determination of this application.

“We will be inviting you to conclude that this is an application that should receive planning permission.”

Mr Stookes then outlined the objections of Stowey Sutton Action Group.

He said even though hazardous waste had now been taken out of the equation, there were still concerns surrounding the dumping of asbestos in the quarry and what effect this would have on water supply.

He said residents still had concerns regarding the stability of hillsides surrounding the quarry, which belong to a third party, and were worried about noise, dust and light pollution from the site and the “unacceptable and adverse” effect it would have on residents in the area.

Other concerns surrounded public footpaths and ecology.

The inquiry is due to continue today, when both sides will give evidence.

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Plan to dump asbestos in old quarry is under scrutiny

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