Plans for Ellenbrook Quarry have been refused by Hertfordshire County Council after an almost seven-hour long meeting yesterday (Tuesday, October 31).

An initial application by Brett Aggregates to build on the former Hatfield Aerodrome site was refused by Hertfordshire County Council, with the Planning Inspectorate dismissing an appeal in January 2022.

But, a second application for the quarry was submitted in September this year, which would have seen around eight million tonnes of material extracted from the site – which sits between Ellenbrook and Smallford – over a 32-year period.

A majority of councillors at the Development Control Committee meeting turned down the application, including chairman Cllr Terry Hone, who cited possible water contamination by the bromate plume as a key reason.

"As far as I’m concerned, I think bromate plume is a big issue," he said.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Development Control Committee chairman Cllr Terry Hone.Development Control Committee chairman Cllr Terry Hone. (Image: Hertfordshire County Council)

"We are not totally convinced. In my opinion, it is too close to everything. We are talking about exposure under the ground here, and you can’t just draw a line along it."

He also raised concerns about access along the A1057, the protection of Popefield Farm - a Grade II-listed site - and the lack of consultation that took place.

"The boundaries have been moved, but have they moved them far enough to protect that special building? I don’t think they have," he continued.

"I am also not sure the consultation was adequate. As I said before, you can never have too much consultation, and perhaps more was done but we didn’t pick it up, but I like to think there is no such thing as too much consultation."

Council planning officers – who had recommended the plans be approved subject to 81 conditions – had expressed some concerns following the vote.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council leader and Hertfordshire County Council member Paul Zukowskyj was among those against the application, citing how the application failed to comply with the Local Plan.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council leader Paul Zukowskyj.Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council leader Paul Zukowskyj. (Image: Hertfordshire County Council)

"In the Local Plan Policies of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, you’ll note that there are three policies listed in there this quarry application does not comply with.

"So, when officers tell you that in the planning balance you are seeing an application that is compliant with all policies, well that is not true. And I will give you an example of why it is not compliant.

"Biodiversity Net Gain is a policy enshrined in the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan, and requires a 10 per cent uplift in biodiversity. This application is not compliant with this policy.

"I’d also point out that the policy that’s been relied on by Brett is 24 years old. Now the last time I came across a policy that was relied upon that was anything like that ancient, was a few years ago when we were talking about a site in Welwyn Garden City.

"The applicant at that time said ‘oh, it’s 15 years old, we should ignore it completely’. But it’s a core part of the requirement that we’re looking at here. It’s 24 years old.

"Officers stood up and said earlier in this meeting that ‘if you have a policy that is old, it should bear less weight’. It’s 24 years old. Welwyn Hatfield adopted Local Plan is 24 days old."