Barrenleys Wood – Enforcement Appeal


 

Barrenleys Wood – Enforcement Appeal

Members will recall the tragic case of Barrenleys Wood, where 6 acres of Green Belt Ancient Woodland was destroyed by the illegal dumping of over 50,000 tons of rubble – at least 5,000 lorry loads. This is a greater area and a much greater tonnage than we cautiously estimated in previous articles.

To put these figures into context, we have seen the equivalent tonnage of the massive new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, dumped on Ancient Woodland, with the Council long refusing to act.  After years of urging by BDRA and others, the Council finally issued enforcement notices against the landowner, who is also the proprietor of Skirmish Paintball. This action wouldn’t have happened if one of the local Councillors, Andrew Schrader, hadn’t intervened.

 

6 acres of Barrenleys Wood destroyed (including a now grass covered area), but a further area of tree death, caused by root compression will develop. (credit Google Earth)

The Enforcement Notice required the removal of the rubble, some sea containers and residential caravans. The landowner appealed against these enforcement notices on a number of grounds, notably the claim that the rubble was dumped more than four years prior to the notice finally being issued, and that he was therefore immune from the Council action. With an impressive degree of chutzpah, he also said that the spoil shouldn’t be removed due to the impact of so many lorry journeys on the local community.

In May a Planning Inspector heard the details of the appeal. The landowner said that the sea-containers were important for his paintball operation, and that the caravans were needed for a 24-hour security team and their attack dogs. He said that the dumping was nothing to do with him, but fly-tipping carried out against his will, though he had not sought to collect evidence or report the matter to the authorities, despite him and family members having occupied the caravans for much of that period.

He observed that it was very fortunate a friend of his had a concrete recycling business and was able to take a large amount of rubble away, otherwise the situation would be worse, as there was initially much more rubble – ie on top of the 50,000+ tons.

 

HMS Queen Elizabeth (credit Wikimedia Commons)

He also commented on how he was able to make the best of a bad job by creating a car park, particularly useful as he had recently lost the use of the external car park he had once leased.  He had planted the side of the rubble with wildflowers, though they hadn’t done very well this year due to the cold snap in spring. It was also noted that all Skirmish Paintball’s financial records had since been destroyed.

The Inspector recently issued his decision, saying that although the landowner’s claims lacked credibility, most of the dumping had probably occurred more than 4 years before the Enforcement Notices were finally issued in 2019, therefore only some of the rubble must go – within 8 months - along with the caravans, but the sea containers can stay.

The partial success of this case begins to illustrate the benefits that can be delivered where Councillors work in partnership with BDRA. We expect the Council leadership to ensure that the remaining elements of the Enforcement Notices are rigorously applied.

 

 

 

Barrenleys Wood - Before

 

Barrenleys Wood - After

 

 

 

 

Barrenleys Wood – Enforcement Appeal