28 September 2018
RE: Emerging Minerals and Waste Plan - Rectory Farm, Hauxton
We the undersigned wish to comment on the general scope and purposes of this plan as well as one of the sites which has been put forward for proposed mineral extraction and waste, Rectory Farm, Hauxton. This property borders farmland and river floodplains near the villages of Haslingfield, Harston and Grantchester. We have questions and strong objections regarding both this specific site and more general impacts of the plan.
2) Rectory Farm - Questions and Objections
A) Impact on wildlife
The riverside land included in the Rectory Farm proposal makes up part of a key wildlife corridor, running from the Trumpington Meadows reserve to Haslingfield, which provides connected habitat for hundreds of our endangered species, including otters and water voles. Protecting this area from any disturbance – such 50-80 lorry movements per day, according to the PDE Consulting Ltd report to the Peterborough City Council - is essential.
Question: How will wildlife and the river itself be protected during the twenty years of mining and landfill?
B) Impact on human health
The large number of lorry journeys indicated in the proposal will create a significant risk from diesel fumes, which the World Health Organisation has officially classified as carcinogenic, in the residential area of Harston along the A10. https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/who-diesel-exhaust-fumes-cancerous/
There is also significant new research showing an increase in the incidence of lung cancer amongst people who live within 5k of landfill sites: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160524211817.htm
Question: how will these increased risks be assessed and avoided?
C) Increased traffic on A10
Lorries collecting minerals and delivering waste over the next 20 years will present a significant additional traffic and road maintenance load to the A10, a major access route to the city of Cambridge. The A10 already experiences frequent extreme congestion which is likely to increase over the next two decades if further planned housing developments, such as the Cambridge South proposal, are carried out. This will impact further on the health of residents along the road, as well as significantly increasing carbon dioxide emissions for the city as it seeks to meet its zero carbon by 2050 target.
Question: what are the councils' plans to mitigate congestion and CO2 emissions increased by the mining/waste operation?
D) Interference with Greenways cycling path and bridleway
The proposed cycling path from Haslingfield to Grantchester passes directly through the area of land being considered for the mining and waste disposal operation. It would also eliminate a longstanding and popular bridle-path and walkway.
Question: Will the Rectory Farm exploitation hinder the plans for a cycle path from Haslingfield to Grantchester? How will public rights to the bridleway and path be protected?
3) General Questions and Objections
A) The Growth Agenda
The basis of the plan is stated clearly in the first paragraph of the Introduction to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Minerals and Waste Development Plan December 2017 Local Aggregate Assessment: “Minerals are essential to the growth agenda in which Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have an important role to play.”
According to the World Economic Forum, as of August 1 this year, humans had already used a full year’s worth of the Earth’s resources. This trend has gotten worse over time, which means that every year we are delving deeper into the savings bank of natural resources. Human existence relies entirely upon the resources this planet can provide. There is no planet B, and once those savings are used up we will be stuck. An agenda of growth, therefore, can no longer be considered as viable and must be abandoned.
Question: How are the councils reconciling the limits imposed by global resources to the government's continued growth agenda?
B) The Tipping Point for Global and National Ecosystems
The endless growth agenda and spending of our reserves is already having dangerous effects upon our planetary ecosystems. The construction industry’s insatiable use of sand and aggregates has literally sucked the ground out from our feet, with terrifying impacts on sea and riverbed ecosystems.
The plan’s proposals to mine sand from the locations identified, including Rectory Farm, Hauxton, claim to be sustainable, in that the land will, in some 20 or 30 years, be returned to a greenfield site. In the short term, however, Marius Dan Gavriletea’s study of the environmental impacts of sand exploitation in the Journal Sustainability identified serious impacts of surface mining on loss of biodiversity, as well as soil erosion, acid drainage, and deforestation. And given that our populations of native birds, insects and mammals are already at high risk, with one in ten British wildlife species facing extinction, according to a 2016 State of Nature report, 20 years is much too long. We are near or past the tipping point for our environment. We must stop now.
Question: How are the councils' development plans contributing to the conservation of our nature's biodiversity and ecosystems essential to supporting all life?
C) Failed targets for Recycled Aggregates/Alternatives Available for Necessary Development
The December 2017 Local Aggregate Assessment highlights the shocking failure of our region to meet its targets for using recycled aggregates.
With only two years to go, we have not once approached our target percentage. Given the graveness of the situation our planet is in, this is a significant and sanctionable failure. Where is the plan to rectify that?
Nor does the plan take into account the many alternate, more sustainable construction methods, including straw, hempcrete and recycled plastic, which we can and should be transitioning towards as soon as possible. The transition to a sustainable way of life which includes reducing consumption, moving to a circular rather than a growth economy, and eliminating waste, must not be sidelined to powerless sustainability and environmental departments, it must be at the heart of all planning activities and reports if we are to assure our children of a positive future.
Question: Why is the region not meeting the stated goals for use of recycled materials, how is this issue being addressed, and if some growth or reconstruction is essential, why are alternate, sustainable building materials not being adopted?