St Albans MP urges Environment Minister to intervene on Hatfield quarry
PUBLISHED: 06:59 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:27 25 October 2019
The MP for St Albans has urged the environment minister to intervene on plans to turn the former Hatfield Aerodrome site into a quarry, in a letter this week.
The site - situated in the Colney Heath parish, near Notcutts Nursery in Smallford - could be developed into a quarry by Brett Aggregates if Hertfordshire County Council approves its plans.
But key documents, namely an 'environmental baseline report' and a 'bromate plan and dataset', state that the boreholes in the ground reveal that the carcinogenic compound bromate has been detected.
"Residents are worried that the impact of disturbing the bromate plume, located underground at the Hatfield Aerodrome site, is not being taken seriously by local regulatory bodies," Mrs Main said in a letter to the under-secretary for the environment, Rebecca Pow.
"There is a risk that the quarrying process could draw the bromate plume onto the site and contaminate the water supply used by locals."
Hugh Burrell, from Smallford Residents' Association, says if it is disturbed then it could have serious implications for drinking water as it would reduce supply in the event of an accident.
But the Environment Agency (EA) believes there is sufficient information to go ahead with the plans and has recommended it for quarrying.
An EA spokesman said: "Over the past seven years we have had regular discussions with the Affinity Water and the Brett Aggregates shape and control the proposed development at Hatfield Aerodrome.
"The activity proposed by Brett Aggregates is very similar to the current Cemex operation at Hatfield Quarry which is adjacent to the proposed site.
"This is much more extensive and has been in operation since the 1970s, and continues to operate safely to this day".
It also does not believe the bromate contamination will have an affect and has been monitoring the site closely.
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"Planning permission conditions have been recommended to manage and reduce any residual risks to groundwater," the EA spokesman added.
The water company for the area, Affinity Water, also believes there is "no risk to drinking water quality from the works being carried out at Hatfield Quarry".
An Affinity Water spokesman said: "We maintain high standards of due diligence and monitor our sources closely to ensure the water that comes out of customers' taps continues to be of high quality."
However Mrs Main called ignoring these concerns "irresponsible and cavalier" in light of what happened in Camelford, Cornwall on July 6 1988. A leak there caused contaminated water to be used by the local population, affecting their health.
She said: "Bromate is a known carcinogen, but very little research is available to make sense of the potential health consequences for residents.
"It is my opinion that possible exposure to this noxious product is an intolerable risk for the local population."
She also highlighted that Ellenbrook fields was promised, under a Section 106 agreement by the former developer, as a green space for a country park trust.
Mr Burrell agreed and he said he wants the plans trashed. He said: "It is unclear to us as residents why Hertfordshire County Council is so keen to go ahead with such a high risk venture when there are other viable alternatives elsewhere in the county."
An EA spokesman pointed out that in 2017 it did issue an environmental permit for the backfill and restoration to create the country park.
Mrs Main further echoed concerns that the development of a quarry could lead to increased traffic congestion along the Hatfield road as well as potential dust and noise emissions from the proposed quarry.
Hertfordshire County Council said it is currently reviewing the consultation responses and advice from the Environment Agency. It is expected that a decision would be made in November on the site.
Brett Aggregates told this newspaper that the site was identified for quarrying in the county's own minerals local plan for a number of years. It also stressed that this location is the subject of a planning application currently being decided by HCC.
A spokesperson said: "[It] is supported by a full environmental assessment, and as part of this process we have provided the authorities with the latest environmental studies, including assessments on groundwater quality."