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East Midlands Freeport

Planning Application Ref 22/01339/LDO

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Update 7 : 3rd July 2023

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Update 6 : 11th January 2023

Parish meeting notes attended by three local councillors.

Carys Thomas (Independent) and Lesley Way (Independent) from Rushcliffe Borough Council, along with Matt Barney from Nottinghamshire County Council attended a meeting called by local clerk, Tom Barton. 

Abridged notes :

  • Deadline for feedback on the revised LDO - 19th February 2023.

  • Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) have previous raised no issues with the proposal, but it is expected that they will be raising serious concerns prior to the deadline.

  • The LOD goes before the full RBC for approval on 2nd March. It is accepted that this will be approved given the Conservative control of the council.

  • LDO only covers Phases 1 & 2 (South of A453) and coal heaps, not Phase 3 (Power station site).

  • Ruth Edwards MP (Conservative) has pushed for a full transport & traffic study to be done prior to the LDO being approved.

  • West Leake's conservation village status could well be damaged by the development.

  • Attending RBC councillors suggested we should see the agreement to include a reduction in height of buildings (from 40m to 30m, unless justified) and the restrictions on usage (green energy or 'advanced' manufacturing) as major successes.

  • No logistics firms will be allowed on the South A453 site.

  • Recommendation the West Leake lobbying should be restricted to West Leake traffic issues. 

  • Tom Barton (Clerk) to provide email addresses for all relevant NCC, RBC councillors and Ruth Edwards, for individuals to write with their personal thoughts. He will also provided bullet points to aid the process.

Some interesting quotes on the night, which will remain anonymous :

"The juggernaut is too big and too fast to be stopped, without a HUGE issue being raised"

"The five parishes will support West Leake proposals, even if this is to a certain extent, at their own expense".

"LDO approval surely has to be conditional on the results of the traffic assessment".

Update 5 : 15th December 2022

Letter written to all inhabitants from Rushcliffe Borough Council includes the following :

Advise that the consultation deadline is now Thursday 19th January and that the documents can be seen online at https://planningon-line.rushcliffe.gov.uk/online-applications/. The reference number is 22/01339/LDO

Proposed revisions :

  • Amending the range of permitted uses on the Southern Area (south of A453) to those limited specifically to low carbon energy production and storage or manufacturing uses delivering the net zero transition;

  • To place greater limits on the extent to which the height of the buildings on the Southern Area can go above 30 metres.

  • Limiting the amount of development which can be occupied before road improvements are delivered or there is agreement for their delivery. This is to ensure the road improvements are designed to also accommodate other major developments that are planned to come forward in the local area:

  • To require a public transport management study for local roads at and around nearby villages and the implementation of the proposed recommendations and;

  • Various revisions to the LDO's design guide to help ensure that a new quality environment is delivered when the Power Station site is redeveloped

Update 4 : 27th September 2022

West Leake Parish Meeting letter to Richard Mapletoft, Rushcliffe Borough Council.

 

Further to our most informative meeting we would like to highlight our points of concern regarding the LDO proposed for the Ratcliffe Power Station site.

  • The impact on the vulnerable village of West Leake and its surrounding rural roads has not been adequately assessed and no mitigation measures have been proposed. Before the grant of the LDO, a solution should be fully discussed and identified, in order to safeguard the routes to the South of the proposed development. These roads are totally unsuitable for the increased traffic movement, which will be produced by the development, and radical steps are required to preserve the safety and characteristics of this area.

 

  • ​We believe that our parish, dramatically affected by the increased traffic flows, must be involved with these consultations. It is anticipated that drastic action will need to be taken to mitigate the predicted levels. For instance, the closure of Dark Lane for safety and environmental reasons, the introduction of 20 mph speed limits through the villages of East Leake, Costock, Sutton Bonington and West Leake using signage and speed restriction measures. This should actively discourage drivers from using these unsuitable routes.

 

  • ​There should also then be regular ongoing measurement of traffic flows in these areas to assess whether further controls are required. This should be part of the conditions of the LDO.

 

  • Both Leicestershire County Council Highways (LCC) and National Highways (NH) indicate that the application has major flaws in it. The LCC says that the applicant has “failed to demonstrate that any significant impacts of the development on the transport network, or on highway safety, can be mitigated”. Similarly, NH states that they believe “the evidence does not demonstrate that the residual cumulative impacts of the development can be cost effectively mitigated to a reasonable standard and would not be supported by NH”.

 

  • These 2 objections prove that the Transport Assessment and the mitigation proposed have been poorly calculated and that more detailed and consultative work is required. 

 

  • The transport assessment and mitigations proposed need vast amounts of more work and consultation to create a solution to the forecast congestion on the major roads. Without this the minor roads will become overloaded with diverting traffic and ever more dangerous.

 

  • There is uncertainty in the figures used for the transport assessment. Just how many people are forecast to work on site? Currently, according to the assessment, there are approximately 950 people employed on-site. This is predicted to rise to 2 possible numbers. The 1st number is the 7-8000 used in the Statement of Reasons. This potentially increases to 14,000 if the “giga-factory” employment number of 1860 increases to the Notts County Council guideline for employees per sq metre of space is used. The plans show 6120 car parking spaces and assumes nearly 80% of workers will arrive by car. It is assumed that the site will operate 24 hours a day. So, employment numbers are anywhere between 7000 and 8000. This should be calculated more accurately and the figure clearly visible.

  • The Transport assessment also adds another confusing figure in Para 6.4.4.2 the total number of car trips is estimated at 12,193 for morning and 12,185 for evening. Presumably that would mean 12,000 workers just at those peak periods and doesn’t include those working shifts.

  • Similarly, HS2 have also highlighted their concerns on the impact of the scheme leading to “significant traffic congestion issues and the uncertainties around mitigation options”.

 

  • The Parish has major concern about the proposed inclusion of the greenfield Green Belt land to the south of the A453. It is contrary to national planning policy to encroach into Green Belt land unless very special circumstances clearly outweigh the harm. The only special circumstance here seems to be a financial one for the landowner. This is the same landowner whom, in February 2022, applied for a S73 variation of a planning condition to restore the land south of the A453 to “enhance the openness and permanence of the Green Belt”. It is strange and probably convenient how the landowner does not see this area as such important Green Belt land in the LDO application.

 

  • The Borough Council have an ideal opportunity to create an exemplar for biodiversity and environmental design on this huge site. The proposal, in the application, for over 50% of the bio-diversity net gain to be “off-site” is an unnecessary one and must not be allowed. 

  • This scheme will be seen by millions of people on roads, rail and planes and should be a fantastic advert for Rushcliffe to physically show that it really does embrace caring for the future of the environment. Less intensive development, more open green space, less dependency on cars with a properly integrated transport policy, more innovative design for low energy requirements, visually more attractive buildings etc. should all be mandatory.

Update 3 : 5th September 2022

West Leake Parish Meeting response to 22/01330/LDO by Tom Barton.

Introduction

The Parish Meeting does not oppose the re-development of the Power Station site but does object to the development of the open Green Belt land south of the A453. It also has grave concerns about certain aspects of the application and would like confirmation that the Parish will be actively involved in the condition setting and monitor of the development. The Parish believes that the Ward member councillors should have the ability to make decisions on the certificates of compliance on the planning conditions and the Borough Council should allow full public consultation on any potentially contentious issues.

The Parish Meeting feel that this application is being “rushed” through the planning process, in order to satisfy the Government Freeport initiative for occupation by Autumn 2026, rather than having detailed consultation on the impact of the scheme. This is the largest potential development the area has ever seen and makes East Midland Gateway (EMG) look small in comparison. EMG took 10 years of planning, a public inquiry and years of consultation with the local communities before it was granted permission.

The Parish Meeting has concerns about the robustness of the information provided within the application. For example, concern has been raised about the figures used in the Transport Assessment and the quality of that assessment. Leicestershire County Council Highways have raised their objection to the scheme based on the figures failing to meet the basic tests of the NPPF. Surely, with the likelihood of the Power Station remaining in use for some considerable time to come then a more detailed analysis of the impacts of the development can be assessed.

The Parish Meeting is also concerned that, in light of recent announcements on the likelihood of the coal fired power station being required to stay open for a few more years, the granting of the LDO may allow for part development of the site and, in particular, the land south of the A453. This land should not be developed as its green open space.

The Parish Meeting has reservations on the Community Involvement in the proposed development. The villages of West Leake and East Leake are “significantly” affected by the proposal and had no exhibitions yet the villages of Thrumpton and Gotham, which do not seem in the application to be “significantly” affected have had Public Exhibitions.

 

The Visual Impact

  • The site is less than 2 miles from the centre of the Conservation village of West Leake and less than 1 mile from the parish boundary. 

  • The factory south of the A453 is planned to be up to 40m in height. The only screening to the south of the site is a small belt of existing trees up to 12m high. The highest building at EMG is 30m high. A 40m high building is totally unacceptable. Also, the density of the developed land as a proportion of this site’s total area is unacceptable.

  • The screening of the site north of the A453 is minimal and should be dramatically increased in the application.

  • The Environmental Impact

  • This Green Belt application shows little thought for the environment. For instance, all the buildings should have solar panels on the roof. There should also be systems for retaining and reusing all rainwater falling on the site.

  • The site south of the A453 is all green open space except for the small areas of the site being currently used for the ash pits. This site provides a huge number of habitat units.

  • The proposal will lead to over 25 acres of mature woodland being lost and 2.5 miles of hedgerow being destroyed. The small areas for biodiversity proposed are insignificant to the established areas to be built on. Only about 50% of the habitat units being lost are to be redistributed around the site, after development, with the rest being “off-site”. This is unacceptable and the development should have the required 10% bio-diversity net gain on site. This is an opportunity for the Borough to make this site an exemplar in bio-diversity- if they really do want biodiversity. The site is huge and whilst the developer will want to maximise every piece of land for building the Council have an opportunity to show that they are really serious about the environment and make a real contribution by controlling the environmental impact.

  • The Borough’s own Ecology and Sustainability Officer concludes that the plans within the Environmental impact assessment are broad in character and more detailed reports will be required in the future- who is going to “test” these reports.

 

Traffic Impact

This is the biggest concern for West Leake Parish Meeting. The Transport Assessment identifies “significant” increases in traffic to the lanes surrounding West Leake with little or no mitigation. This is totally unacceptable. 

The Transport Assessment states that the increases in traffic directly resulting from the development will make Main Street, West Leake “difficult to cross safely” and the adverse traffic impact on Main Street and Dark Lane as being “significant”.

No other roads in the area have this “significant” level of impact- not even the A453,M1,A50,A6 or side roads closer to the site.

The various reports do not make it clear how many people are expected to work on site- this varies from 3000 up to potentially 15,000 creating, potentially, an additional 27,000 vehicle movements per day. This is based on the predicted 80% of workers travelling by car. This is an outrageous amount of car dependency. The plans show parking for 6000 cars and so we are not sure all the figures are accurate and that they should be independently tested.

 

Furthermore, the documents submitted by ARUP Transport Assessment is based on significantly lower staffing levels. The stated increase in vehicle movements along Dark Lane and Main Street, West Leake and into East Leake estimate at an increase of 30%+ is therefore underestimated and could be at least 3 times these figures. In light of these discrepancies is the Transport Assessment flawed?

There are more children living in West Leake now than ever in the last 50 years. There are numerous places in the village where there are no footpaths at the sides of the roads and where road crossing is frequently required.

The Parish Meeting would like the local authorities to consider the closing of Dark Lane to through traffic. Whilst signposting, speed control measures and gateway schemes can deter and control the speed of traffic, the modern use of sat-navs will mean that vast numbers of traffic will use this lane for access to the development from the south as it will be the shortest route. Already there is traffic using Dark Lane from the A6006 to the A453 in order to have a more direct route rather than using the main roads.

Dark Lane is a narrow country lane and totally unsuitable of taking more volume. 

The accident record for the New Kingston Crossroads (Dark Lane/West Leake Lane/Kegworth Road junction) has been totally missed out of the Transport Assessment. It is a dangerous crossroads and whilst some mitigation is mentioned it is minimal considering the volume that will use the junction. Precedent for shutting roads has been set before in the area where there is new development and safety issues. For instance, Rempstone Lane to A6006 south-east of East Leake and Gravelly Hollow cut through from Calverton to the A614.

Dark Lane does not have footpaths at the side of it and is used extensively by horse rider and pedestrians linking into the Midshire Way. Similarly, the West Leake Road to East Leake has no footpaths at the side of it for pedestrians and it too is predicted to have a “significant” and “adverse traffic impact”. Increases in traffic will be to the massive detriment of other road users- this again is unacceptable.

The plans show very little to mitigate these traffic impacts. A holistic solution to the far-reaching environmental and human effects of the increased traffic is not shown. There is total disregard for the effect on the minor roads around the site rather than a truly sustainable and integrated scheme.

 

Further away from the site, insufficient analysis has been done. Little mitigation is proposed. Some of the junctions that will be impacted are already known to be operating close to or over-capacity, but no modelling has been done for these junctions. For instance, A6006/Travells Hill, West Leake Road/Main Street, East Leake, Gotham Road/Main Street, East Leake. The Parish Meeting back the proposals made by the Ward Members for further analysis of the road network particularly to the south of the site.

Once the LDO is approved there will be little opportunity to avoid the adverse impact of traffic on the vulnerability of West Leake. Therefore, the LDO must have conditions attached to it that require a solution for mitigating the identified impacts prior to any development starting. The local parishes must also be involved in these solutions. 

The application is woefully lacking in showing how an integrated transport plan could work. The requirement for a permanent foot link to the railway station at Parkway, the provision of a bus link to the tram stop at Clifton, a bus to link to the airport, extension of the tram and linking into the bus routes around Loughborough, North West Leicestershire and Erewash, are just some examples that could be incorporated.  A forecast of 1.4% of workers using bus is far too low to be acceptable.

The Parish Meeting also believes that more analysis needs to be carried out on where the potential 15,000 workers (if that is the correct predicted number) are going to come from. With employment levels very high in the East Midlands, just how far are the 80% car users going to come travel and should even wider modelling take place.

Update 2 : 3rd September 2022

Local Development Order for Development at Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station / Ward Members’ Response – Leake Ward

 

This response to the consultation is from the three ward members for Leake Ward – Councillor Kevin Shaw, Councillor Carys Thomas and Councillor Lesley Way.

 

Overall we are supportive of redevelopment of this brown field site to form a high tech green technology hub but we have serious concerns on a number of grounds and we OBJECT to the overall proposal as it stands.

 

1. Decision-making for detailed proposals

The consultation gives the opportunity to comment on this. We believe that there should be the ability for decisions on certificates of compliance to be taken directly by elected Councillors in certain circumstance, for example a request to do so by the ward member, or ward members from multiple adjacent wards, and/or evidence or significant public opposition to a particular proposal for whatever reason. It is important that any contentious applications have the benefit of full public representation. The situations should be few and far between if the applications broadly comply with the LDO, and with the right mechanism should not result in great delays. Such applications could be referred to Planning Committee or perhaps to a specially convened working group under the Planning Committee comprising members of the LDF or the DevCo WP (as members of these groups maintain oversite of the initiative), but considered in public with speakers as for Planning Committee.

2. Impact of Significant Increased Traffic Levels on Villages and Country Roads

The Transport Assessment identifies significant projected increase in traffic along Dark Lane and through the two villages of West Leake and East Leake as well as other villages and country roads in the area.

The Environmental Impact Assessment includes the following statement.

  • Non-motorised users on Station Road and West Leake Road in East Leake; and Main Street in West Leake may be impacted as a result of increased traffic flows making road crossings more difficult. This results in a moderate adverse effect, which is considered significant.

Note that many impacts on local roads are identified in the transport assessment and are of concern to residents, but this is the only significant impact re transport and traffic raised in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The traffic modelling is based on work for the East Midlands Gateway which did not have to consider traffic from the A6006/A46 needing to turn north/west to go to the Power Station. As the proposal stands, traffic approaching from the direction A60/A6006/A46 will leave the strategic road network somewhere between Costock, Rempstone and Zouch to head for the power station. It will travel along narrow winding country roads and through the villages, with huge negative impact on quality of life. Insufficient analysis has been done. No mitigation is proposed. Some of the junctions that will be impacted are already known to be operating close to or over capacity but no modelling has been done for these junctions.

We request that additional analysis is undertaken before the LDO is approved, as follow :

  • Model the following junctions for am and pm peaks, and check accident records:

    • A60/Main Street/Wysall Lane - Costock crossroads

    • A60/A6006 Rempstone crossroads

    • A6006 Staggered junction Leake Lane/Loughborough Road

    • A6006/Travels Hill

    • A6006/Trowell Lane

    • A6006/A6 at Hathern

    • East Leake T junction Gotham Road/Main Street

    • East Leake junction by the church Brookside/Main Street/Station Road

      (Note that modelling should include housing developments completed and under way in East Leake plus the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centres.)

  • Determine the strategic preferred routes avoiding villages for journeys to and from the Power Staton site from the following roads:

    • A6006 (Rempstone to Hathern)

    • A60 (Nottingham to Loughborough).

    • A46

  • Specify signage and improvements to the roads and junctions identified as strategic routes to improve traffic flows, encourage use of these routes, and remove delays at pinch points to make these routes more attractive.

  • Specify measures to protect the country roads and villages that will be impacted by traffic cutting though from the strategic routes, to mitigate the impacts and to make these routes less attractive. Measures could include: weight limits, speed limits, chicanes, road closures, one way systems, width reduction to create one way flows with priority signage, signage to designate “country lanes”, “cycle priority route”, “access only” etc.

 

3. Emphasis on travel by car and insufficient provision of public transport

Very little is being done in the plans to satisfy various policy requirements to promote methods of sustainable transport. Even after measures proposed the Transport Assessment concludes:

  • 80.4% of people travelling to/from the Site would travel either as a car driver or passenger, and 15% would travel by public transport (13.6% by rail and 1.4% by bus).

 

This is simply not good enough and plans cannot be allowed to go forward on this basis. The car is king! The site plan has the appearance of a giant car park, and apart from anything else this is inefficient use of land. The premise is that there will be on-plot parking for each of the buildings. Journeys by car will be door to door and so encouraged. Public transport journeys however will be difficult and time consuming and so discouraged. At present there are proposals for two existing services to simply stop at the entrance to the site with travellers expected to change at the mobility hubs and catch the shuttle bus or borrow a bike or scooter. As things stand in the proposals, the balance of convenience is greatly in favour of travelling by car.

Parking provision should be redesigned to redress the balance in favour of sustainable travel. On- plot parking could be reduced to just disabled and shared car spaces, with the majority of spaces situated around the edge of the site near the mobility hubs. Multi story car parks here instead of flat parking throughout the site would keep the parking footprint compact and allow land to be used for green space and biodiversity gain instead. Having the various buildings closer together rather than separated by huge car parks would help build community among employees. This approach could also retain more land for business use in the future.

This will be a major employment centre situated in Rushcliffe but no analysis has been undertaken of public transport routes from the major residential areas in Rushcliffe such as West Bridgford, Ruddington, East Leake, Keyworth and Cotgrave. (Bingham and Radcliffe on Trent have the rail link.) This is a piece of work that should be added, by Rushcliffe if not by the applicant, so that additional public transport provision can be designed to benefit the residents of Rushcliffe as well as other surrounding areas.

As things stand, from the tram park and ride, it will be necessary to catch the Skylink, then the site shuttle bus. From East Leake (in our ward) the number 1 to the tram stop, then Skylink, then the site shuttle bus.

One option considered but which seems to have been discarded was for the site shuttle bus to be extended to the tram stop. This would reduce the number of changes for public transport users and make the public transport option significantly more attractive. It could be a public bus service rather than a free site bus. It might even be possible to consider running the shuttle bus along the reserved tram access route. The option of extending the shuttle bus service to EMG seems to still be under active consideration, but extending it to connect with the tram is surely more important?

An option from East Leake suggested by a resident would be to run the no 1 service from Gotham via Kegworth Road/West Leake Lane and the A453 to the crusader roundabout, stopping on West Leake Lane at the Southern part of the development, rather than through Fairham. The shuttle bus could be used from here to access the northern part of the site. This option is worth considering, preferably by adding extra buses via this route and/or perhaps running alternate buses via the two different routes. Bus stops would be needed on West Leake Lane. Any increase of journey time on the no 1 would be an unwelcome side-effect of this and could be a disincentive to travel by bus to Nottingham in general. However it is noted that increased journey time is also anticipated on the route when it has to pass through Fairham. The various options would need to be assessed.

4. Lack of Cycle Routes

Consideration is being given to cycle routes along the A453 and elsewhere, but there is only a cursory mention of a cycle route to Gotham, possibly to be extended to East Leake. There is certainly no firm undertaking from the applicant or from NCC to take this forward. This is not under consideration to receive funding from the development, despite the significant grants available towards transport. This needs to be rectified. In terms of distance, cycle journeys from within our ward are certainly very viable, but the winding roads with fast traffic are not conducive to cycling and will become even more unsuitable with the extra traffic proposed unless steps are taken to reduce it (see section above). The country lanes concerned need to be targeted as active travel routes and protected so that cycling is given priority on them and is safe. The alternative is to provide dedicated off road cycle routes and plans for this need to be worked up, rather than written off as a vague aspiration.

 

Although it is not far from the Number 1 bus stop in Clifton to Skylink at the tram park and ride, if the number 1 went into the site and out again, closer links to the tram and Skylink or shuttle bus may encourage this route. In fact, why not develop the park and ride site into a transport hub similar to a bus station making it easier to change?

We also recognise that with a few improvements the extensive bridleway network could form part of a sign-posted and promoted route and be part of the cycling solution for some people, at least in the summer months, and we ask that this is considered. The bridleways are already are used for recreational cycling. Many stretches are suitably surfaced already. With negotiation, the new access road within the proposed solar farm development 22/00319/FUL (if approved) could form part of the route.

 

5. Solar panels on roofs

There is no requirement for the buildings to have solar panels on their roofs, but this should be included. It is important to use such vast floorspace for this purpose and set an example here, given the “green” aspirations for the site. Placing them on the ground instead is not a solution – the area designated can instead be used for biodiversity improvements and habitat creation. Solar farms can be underplanted but typically these areas are enclosed preventing mammal movement and the vegetation is species poor and strictly controlled, often using pesticides. We realise that there is talk of green roofs, but that is not a requirement either, and even if it were, the area of land assigned for solar panels would provide greater capacity for carbon capture.

Walkways and those massive areas of car parking could also be covered with raised roofs with solar panels, affording shelter from the elements and encouraging active travel around the site, as well as generating electricity. For a site professing a vision of “A Smart, Green, Resilient Industrial Park focused on Energy Generation and Advanced Manufacturing” such initiatives should be built in from the start.

6. The Southern Site, Phasing, Logistics uses

Only part of the area south of the A453, viz the ash tips, can be regarded as brownfield and once the ash is removed these areas could readily be restored to countryside. It seems unlikely that this site would have been approved for development if it were not in combination with the power station site. There is concern about the height and imposing nature of the buildings proposed here and loss of fields and areas of woodland. We add our voices asking for the built area to be reduced, the building height to be reduced, the appearance broken up, screening to be added, and existing valued habitats and countryside to be preserved.

We are concerned that the possibility of the power station being retained for longer than originally planned will lead to this area alone being developed initially, which will make the visual impact even more pronounced.

We note that the area for B8 use (logistics, storage and distribution) is “limited to a maximum of 180,000 m2 GFA on the Northern Area”. We fear this may come under pressure if the planned phasing has to be revised. Applications for B8 use on the Southern Site should be refused, not least because this will introduce additional heavy traffic via this access. Indeed the introduction of logistics uses should be controlled in general to maintain the intended proportions so that it does not dominate the site at the outset. Even if areas come forward later than planned, the vision for the site must not be diluted as it comes on stream.

If coal-fired power generation continues presumably there will be an ongoing requirement for an ash tip – where will this go if the southern site is cleared and developed?

We note comments from NCC about ensuring that the ash, now a valuable commodity, is fully exploited and not simply used for levelling the ground etc.

7. Biodiversity

There is little in the plans about using the buildings themselves to create wildlife habitats and provide biodiversity. Opportunities are being lost here – bird and bat nesting sites, green walls and other gains should be required. Green roofs in combination with solar panels perhaps. The areas of car parking could include more than a few trees, and the surfacing could be eco-friendly.

Page 13 para 3.3 of the LDO provides a hierarchy for delivery of Biodiversity Net Gain units, and will make it far too easy to avoid providing the benefits on site. That is the first option in the hierarchy and the only option that is really acceptable. The overall site could perhaps identify a series of projects that individual plot holders can buy into as part of their contribution? Provision off site in the immediate local area (options 2.1 and 2.2) is the only alternative that should be considered, and only in exceptional circumstances where the gain truly cannot be made on site. Fuelling the dubious industry of BNG providers is not acceptable. The fish pass at Thrumpton Weir (option 3) is no doubt a worthy cause but it is not a BNG. Option 4 – a payment to Rushcliffe is utterly insupportable – it will either be used for other purposes which would be a betrayal of the environment, or simply join the vast sum of developer contributions banked by Rushcliffe that cannot be spent for the intended purpose. BNG should be taken seriously and this section needs to be strengthened considerably.

8. Conditions and Overall site management responsibilities

There appears to be some opportunity for responsibilities to comply with conditions to fall in the crack between the land owner, overall site operator and applicant/operators of individual plots. All conditions need to clearly set out who is responsible for satisfying them. Similarly, a site wide management plan should be approved as part of this applicant (or as a condition attached to it), and individual plot site management responsibilities also clearly laid out and approved.

 

Responsibilities of other agencies such as Rushcliffe and Highways for any aspects of managing the site also need to be clearly defined and delineated. We have seen with housing developments how this can be problematic and this site is more complex.

9. Positive planning for Heat Energy from the Incinerator

The incinerator application promises on site direct heat as well as electricity generation. We note NCC comments about the importance of the infrastructure for this heat distribution network to be designed in from the start and we support their proposed condition.

10. Maximising advantages of the rail link

Much has been made of the presence of the rail link into the site when justifying development here, but there is little in the documentation to ensure that this is fully exploited. In the same way that there are travel plans about journeys to work we would like to see conditions so that the site planning overall and individual businesses taking up occupancy are actively considering how the rail link can be used to move freight of all kinds, including waste to be processed by the incinerator, raw materials, and manufactured goods. This will be key to reducing heavy traffic, but needs active consideration at this stage to make it happen, as any additional infrastructure will need to be in place before the individual plots are developed. 

Update 1 : 30th August 2022

The Times is reporting that Uniper has negotiated a deal to keep Ratcliffe Power Station ‘online’ in exchange for a fee (up to £420m).

No time limit is advised, but the delay in the closure of Ratcliffe might allow more time for consultation on the LDO and perhaps a more thorough assessment of the impacts of the development and the most appropriate mitigation.

Initial Report : 27th August 2022

Tom Barton, Clerk of the Parish Meeting wrote:

"This is a huge application - 250 acres of buildings up to 40m high, creating over 15,000 jobs (newly revised figure), making it larger that the EMG scheme next to the airport.

The effects on West Leake and the surrounding area are massive and I have been asked to emphasise this to all residents. In particular the transport assessments that highlight the increases in traffic that will make "crossing the road more difficult" and describe the impact on Main Street and Dark Lane as "significant". Not even the A453, M1, A50, A6 or side roads near the site are expected to have this level of change. There could be a 6,000 people commuting to the site by car and our roads cannot cope with that. A village group is preparing a response to Rushcliffe Borough Council, which you are most welcome to use as a guide to send a letter / email of your own. Please email me at mrsjbarton@yahoo.co.uk for a copy or see on this site very soon.

  • This is an outline of the scheme and how it affects West Leake. A template with the key points on it will be produced in the next few days for you to use as a base for a response to the Council.

  • In the meantime, please make people aware of the impact of this proposal and, in particular, people who live in East Leake as they are largely unaware of the impact on them regarding traffic.

  • The Parish has written to the local MP for a meeting as well as to the Leader and Chief Executive of Rushcliffe Borough Council.

  • We have also asked for the exhibition that took place in Gotham and Thrumpton be brought to West Leake. 

  • Our fear is that this is a political agenda item to find a site for a Government backed scheme, the Borough Council are desperate to please.

  • The Council are only allowing a very short window of time for consultation and then that will be it so we are asking to be involved in more consultation now and throughout the planning process.

  • Proposed Local Development Order for development at Ratcliffe Power Station. To include Energy generation and storage, Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial- including a Giga-Factory, Logistics  R&D offices, Education, solar panels and community hub/hotel.

  • This a huge application - the biggest ever in the area - 250 acres of buildings up to 40m high creating over 7000 jobs- making it larger than the East Midlands Gateway (EMG) scheme next to the Airport.

  • The development is part of the Government’s strategy to create a number of Freeports around the country.  These sites will be offered tax incentives and grants to attract businesses to them.

  • The sites have to be operational by September 2026 in order to qualify for the Government incentives. Therefore, this application is being rushed through the planning process in a matter of months with very little consultation.

  • As a comparison, the EMG at the airport took 10 years to progress including Public Inquiries and very high levels of community involvement.

  • The application is for a Local Development Order. This basically gives an outline permission to the application.

  • Once granted the permission will have numerous conditions attached to it. Once set, those conditions will not be changed and the developer can proceed with the development without the need for further local consultation.

  • Whilst the Power Station is due for demolition in 2024, this is by no means certain. The permission could still be granted in stages allowing, for instance, the development of the huge factory south of the A453 to go ahead 1st. The rest of the site could then be developed as and when the Power Station is no longer needed.

  • It is obvious that the Power Station site should be re-developed after its useful life but it is felt that extending the site to include land south of the A453 is inappropriate and “profiteering” by the land owner of the application site, Uniper. Also, the scheme is poorly thought out in terms of its relationship with the surrounding area.

There are several impacts on the village, in particular:-

VISUAL IMPACT

  • For example, the factory south of the A453 is seeking approval to be 40m high.

  • By comparison, the highest building at EMG is 30m.

  • There is little or no effective screening of the site as the tallest trees south of the site are only some 12m high.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

  • Most of the land south of the A453 is green open space where the ash pits have been remediated to provide many acres of wildlife habitat including woodland and grass areas. This will all but disappear.

  • There are some proposals for relatively small areas of planting but these are insignificant to the areas being lost.

  • The bio-diversity plans are very minimal and questionable in its assumptions.

 

TRAFFIC IMPACT

  • This is the biggest threat to our Conservation Area and beautiful surroundings.

  • According to the application, there are expected to be over 15000 people working on the site once it is fully operational.

  • Of those, 80% will travel by car.

  • The Transport Assessment states that the increases in traffic directly resulting from the development will “make road crossing more difficult” on Main Street West Leake and the adverse traffic impact on Main Street and Dark Lane as being “significant”.

  • No other roads in the area have this level of impact- not even the A453,M1,A50,A6 or side roads closer to the site.

  • This is totally unacceptable

 

MITIGATION

  • The plans show very little to mitigate these impacts.

  • There are some improvements to Junction 24 of the M1, the crossroads at New Kingston but not much else.

  • In comparison EMG off-site infrastructure cost, demanded by the Council, were in the region of £70m as well as a £10m bypass around Kegworth.

  • The Power Station development is showing only a fraction of that sort of mitigation.

  • The scheme is not integrated into the transport network.

  • The tram may, one day, link to the site but that could take 10 years or more to build.

  • There is no footbridge linking Parkway Station to the new site until much later.

  • The bus stop is on the edge of the site meaning employees will have to walk to their place of work across the site.

  • There are no new proposed cycle routes from the south of the development meaning that Dark Lane, for instance, would have to be used by cyclists as well as the huge increase in cars.

  • The roads in the area, particularly to the south of the site will be used as access to the site.

  • Already we see numerous cars, each day, travelling through the village from the East in order to access the A453 either into Nottingham or to the M1.

  • In addition, huge numbers travelling from the A6006 cut down Trowell Lane and then up Dark Lane to again access the A453. This will multiply hugely when the development is built.

  • There are no other suitable access roads

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