BDRA successfully lobbies Council over destruction of Ancient Woodland


 

BDRA successfully lobbies Council over destruction of Ancient Woodland

 

Billericay District Residents Association (BDRA) has successfully lobbied Basildon Council to issue enforcement notices against the owner of Barrenleys Wood, site of the “Skirmish” paintball operation, where the dumping of vast quantities of building rubble has destroyed a large area of Ancient Woodland.

 

Barrenleys Wood lies 200 metres east of Outwood Farm Road, close to the Solar Farm. It is a designated Local Widlife Site (LoWS) and part of the Green Belt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background

 

There has been dumping in the wood over the past few years, around 5 acres have been covered and destroyed; the rubble lies ten feet deep in places. Over time the mounds are likely to slump and spread, degrading a further area.

 

We previously estimated that around 20,000 tonnes of rubble had been dumped, equivalent to the weight of the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible, that assessment now seems excessively cautious; it could be twice that.

 

 

Figure 1 – Before

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2 – After

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3 - After

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 4 - Rubble amounting to the weight of HMS Invincible, perhaps twice that.

 

 

 

Action

 

We’ve lobbied for two years for enforcement action to be taken. Basildon carried out site visits in partnership with Essex County Council and the government’s Environment Agency. The Council has issued three enforcement notices.

 

The owner is required to:

 

·        Remove all the spoil and compacted soil

 

·        Remove six sea containers from the site

 

·        Remove caravans used as residential accommodation.

 

The Association would like to thank Basildon Council Officers and Councillors who have been involved in the case to date, in particular Cllr Schrader who is one of the local ward representatives and who has played a crucial role in getting the ball rolling and maintaining momentum.

 

Next Steps

 

The owner has a month to appeal, and if he does not must remove the spoil within three months.

 

We will continue to engage with Basildon Council to see if this is being done and that further action is taken if it is not.

 

 

 

Outstanding Issues & potential national security concern

 

·        The authorities know the identity of the company that delivered the materials but it does not appear that any action will be taken against them. The Environment Agency told us:

 

We intend to complete a ‘Duty of Care’ audit on the company who delivered the waste in due course. We regard this as a low priority action due to the amount of illegal activity across the Essex area.”

 

·        There is also a potential national security issue in that the governments CLH Pipeline System runs either through the wood, or more likely just to the west of it.,

 

This is a national network of petroleum pipelines and storage facilities, originally built in the war, and used to move fuel between strategic sites.

 

We don’t want to exaggerate the risk, but it is nonetheless vital that the authorities check that the pipeline has not been compromised by the weight of the material or through being made inaccessible because of the rubble.

We know the Council has maps of the pipeline location, but if they have checked they haven’t responded to our requests for clarification

BDRA successfully lobbies Council over destruction of Ancient Woodland