A MOVE to increase operations at a sand and gravel extraction site could be scuppered after opposition from councillors who heard residents’ lives were already being made a misery.
TJ Transport Ltd was given permission by Hampshire County Council in 2017 to extract 540,000 tonnes of material from a 5.6-hectare site at Forest Lodge Home Farm, off Fawley Road in Hythe.
As part of this consent, conditions were imposed restricting noise levels and on-site activity, particularly in relation to the screening or crushing of materials.
The company recently submitted an application to vary those conditions to allow screening to be carried out, which, as reported in the A&T, nearby residents were fiercely opposed to.
Discussing that application at New Forest District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, councillors sided with neighbours, describing ongoing work as intolerable.
Although the committee could not make a decision on the application, it can make a recommendation to the county council as the mineral planning authority.
Cllr James Binns, who represents the area, urged fellow members to support the community and recommend refusal of the application.
“Residents find the current situation intolerable – although they do tolerate it because they have to,” he said. “What is being proposed will have very detrimental effects on the quality of their lives.
“Currently, conditions are not being enforced, certainly in terms of decibel levels, which we are sure are in excess of what is permitted.
“TJ have done nothing with regard to working with the community to alleviate any concerns, and I have grave concerns that if the conditions are not currently being met, any variation will not be adhered to either and things are going to get worse for the residents.”
Clllr Glass said several councillors had been contacted by residents and were sympathetic to their plight.
Cllr David Harrison said: “I’m well aware that people living near this are going to be very nervous, especially when they hear the conditions are now being challenged.
“All those conditions were put in place for very good reasons, and I think the district should take a consistent position and insist on those conditions all remaining in place.”
Cllr Merv Langdale said this was a move by TJ Transport Ltd to save money.
“This is seriously disappointing, and I think we need to be really diligent,” he told the committee.
Cllr Alan Penson said: “This is a very noisy and unpleasant operation, and while there are proposals for noise restriction at the boundary, this will be very difficult to enforce and operators will get away with it – the company hasn’t stuck to conditions made two years ago.”
TJ stated in its application there was an “urgent need” to screen material at the site.
“Following the commencement of operations at the site as the dig has progressed, the clay content in the sand has significantly increased, making it difficult to extract the reserves and offer a product to the market place,” it said.
“The solution is to enable a screening plant to remove the clay particles in the sand to enable it to continue to be viable as a building/mortar sand. Without screening, site progress would be hindered to a point where an extension in time is required.”
Planning officers recommended the committee raise no objection to the application, arguing that due to screening and lighter and quieter machinery, noise should not be a problem.
Members, however, voted 15 to 1 to recommend refusal of the application.