Agenda item

Serving of the Prohibition Order for the Review of the Mineral Planning Permission (ROMP) at Thrupp Farm and Thrupp Farm, Radley

Report by the Director for Planning & Place (PN6).


This report brings to Committee the issue of serving a Prohibition Order for the Review of the Mineral Planning Permission (ROMP) at Thrupp Farm and Thrupp Farm, Radley having first set out the issue to be considered which is whether the minerals development has permanently ceased or not and, therefore, the duty to serve a Prohibition Order or not.


It is RECOMMENDED that it be determined that mineral working on the site has permanently ceased and that accordingly there is a duty on the Mineral Planning Authority to serve a Prohibition Order of the mineral permissions covering areas DD1 (Plan 1) and DD2 (Plan 2).




The Committee considered (PN6) a report setting out the issue of whether minerals development at Thrupp Farm and Thrupp Farm, Radley had permanently ceased and whether or not a Prohibition Order for the Review of the Mineral Planning Permission (ROMP) should be served.


Roger Thomas spoke on behalf of the Friends of Radley Lakes community organisation who supported the making of the Prohibition Order. They had no objection in principle to further gravel extraction here, but the prolonged inactivity had created uncertainty and impeded planning for the wider area. Posing the question whether or not it appeared on the evidence available, that mineral working was likely to resume at this site he felt that on the basis of evidence over the past half-century that would not seem to be the case. The main unextracted area was Area 5 permission for which had been granted in 1971. There had been no extraction in this area since then. The general consensus locally as to why extraction of this area had not even begun, nearly 50 years on was that as Area 5 lay in the floodplain extraction would quite simply be uneconomic. In summary, all the evidence suggested that a resumption of mineral working here was unlikely and would appear to have permanently ceased at this site.


Richard Dudding spoke on behalf of Radley Parish Council who supported the proposed prohibition order. Permissions to extract minerals there dated back to 1954 with most of the former workings restored and no extraction having taken place since about 1995. As minerals workings ceased the area had wonderful potential for nature conservation and quiet recreation. Minerals, however, remain in the ground in a field called Nyatt [Area 5] with the operator maintaining they would eventually be extracted. However, to judge the credibility of that claim it would be necessary to look also at another site nearby in Area 1 consisting of a yard that had previously serviced minerals operations. Since 1982, if not before, the operator let that yard for industrial and commercial activities unrelated to minerals while arguing that it would eventually be needed to service the Nyatt operations and, therefore, should not be restored to greenfield.  This had enabled them to obtain temporary planning permissions for uses which would otherwise have had no chance of being allowed – given the green belt location and the unsatisfactory road access. In 1992 following a public inquiry an Inspector agreed to allow the uses for a further period, but this was based on his firm belief that the Nyatt minerals would be fully extracted by 2008 at very latest and possibly sooner. However, 27 years after that decision there was no sign of extraction even starting. In 2012 Tuckwells obtained planning permission for the Nyatt minerals to be conveyed to their yard for treatment but that permission lapsed in 2017.  In our view statements by the operators did not reflect their actual intent but were a device to justify prolonging their unrelated commercial activity at their yard blighting the future of the Lakes area and in the Parish council’s view the County Council would be fully justified in serving a prohibition order.  


Responding to Councillor Johnston Mr Dudding confirmed that uncertainty had affected the development of Radley Lakes and also the neighbourhood plan.


Douglas Symes then spoke on behalf of the two owners and operators of Thrupp Farm and Sutton Wick Quarry making it clear that the intention had always been to resume working at Radley when permitted reserves had run out at Sutton Wick. There was evidence to support that and county council officers were aware of that as stated in paragraph 14 of the report before the Committee.  It was also the intention that an application for a review of conditions would be made when the Sutton Wick site was due to finish and closer to the time that working at Thrupp Farm would be resumed. Surveys had been carried out to support that but to have two coterminous sites working was unsustainable and would create greater disruption to local amenity. A planning application to use the Thrupp Lane plant site to process material from Thrupp Farm prepared over the last 8 months was almost ready to be submitted and so to interpret the absence of any application so far as evidence that it is not intended to resume working was contrary to what had been said in writing to the county council and other interested parties. That would be presented in support of any appeal against any prohibition notice.  He argued that the long history of evidence on this site made it clear that working would resume while explaining the need to manage effectively finite resources.  Challenging the conclusion reached by county officers he concluded that any decision to serve a prohibition notice would be strongly challenged on the basis of sound evidence.


He then responded to questions from:


Councillor Johnston – working had ceased to allow Sutton Wick to work first and although the 2 sites had different accesses it had been considered unsustainable to work both sites at the same time.  He did not accept the point made by Councillor Johnston that an EIA put forward some years ago had been deficient. That was incorrect.


Councillor Fox-Davies – the Thrupp Farm and Sutton Wick applications were separate. Thrupp Farm had a completion date of 2042 and with reserves of 1 million tonnes that did not imply the site was worked out.


Councillor Fitzgerald-O’Connor – Sutton Wick was expected to be worked out by 2027.


Mr Periam confirmed that there was information to support the figure of a million tonnes in reserve but that was not included within the landbank figure. The site was not within areas of search in the emerging Minerals and Waste Plan and the EIA referred to earlier by Councillor Johnston had not constituted a good assessment adding that that had in fact been immaterial in the end.


Councillor Roberts expressed some concern that an expiry date of 2042 for the Thrupp Farm permission could affect the Council’s position if challenged.


Mr Periam felt sure the landowners would challenge any decision to serve a prohibition notice but he considered that the County Council were not acting unreasonably in reaching such a conclusion.


RESOLVED: (on a motion by Councillor Johnston, seconded by Councillor Reynolds and carried by 9 votes to 1) that it be determined that mineral working on the site had permanently ceased and that accordingly there was a duty on the Mineral Planning Authority to serve a Prohibition Order of the mineral permissions covering areas DD1 (Plan 1) and DD2 (Plan 2).


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