Work begins to relocate Hatfield special needs school

WORK to relocate a special needs school away from the site of the proposed Hatfield incinerator has begun.

Diggers have arrived at former playing fields in Woods Avenue, Hatfield, to carry out archeological work ahead of the relocation of Southfield School this summer.

The special needs school is being controversially moved from its current location in Travellers Lane by Hertfordshire County Council, in order to build a 380,000-tonne incinerator at nearby New Barnfield.

That’s before planning permission for the waste burner has even been granted, and before a Government inspector’s report on the council’s waste strategy has been published.

The sight of diggers on the site is another blow to anti-incinerator campaigners, who opposed the relocation scheme on the grounds it was pre-determining the outcome of the incinerator application.

But the plans were eventually passed last month, after local government secretary Eric Pickles decided not to call the application in.

Cathy Roe, from Hatfield Against Incineration, said: “The field, which should have been retained as a playing field, has been ripped up by trenches.

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“There is also important wildlife on the site, which should be protected.

“Local people are also concerned about the effects of another new school entrance on the already dangerous Woods Avenue.

“The decision by Herts County Council to move Southfield School prematurely is seen by many as pre-determination of the incinerator planning application, and as possibly illegal.

“Campaigners do not want these vulnerable children to be moved unnecessarily.

“They also want them to be protected by not having an incinerator built next to their permanent school building and grounds.”

Julie Taylor lives in Wood Close, opposite the playing fields. She said she was unaware the school was beikng relocated until the diggers turned up yesterday (Wednesday).

“I’m extremely upset,” she said. “I’m losing the lovely view out of my window and they [the council] just didn’t let us know.

“I had a letter early last year about what they were planning, which I objected to. But since then there’s been no notification at all.

“Seeing as I live next to the site, I should have been notified.

She added: “It’s horrific. they’re digging more trenches and it is noisy, but it’s more the thought of what’s to come.”

A council spokseman confirmed the diggers were on site as part of an archeological dig, “to satisfy conditions of planning permission”.

He added that it was unlikely the council would have notified residents of any minor exploratory work taking place.