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Monday, 09 November 2020 09:22

Watersplash Farm - Footpath Temporary Diversion Order

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The following email has been received from a Shepperton resident who makes a strong case for objecting to the Footpath Temporary Diversion Order at Watersplash Farm. His observations are particularly relevant in the light of the current pandemic and the protection of amenity for walkers. It should be noted that time is short as objections must be submitted on or before this coming Friday, 13th November:

"Dear Shepperton and Sunbury resident,
 
"You may be aware that gravel extraction at Watersplash Farm has been given planning consent. However there are still aspects of the permission which need to be resolved before excavation can take place. One of these permissions is the diversion of footpath 53 which runs across Watersplash Farm and is an ancient footpath dating probably back to Saxon times.
 
"The footpath, in case you are not aware of it, runs right across the centre of Watersplash farm from Fordbridge Road to Upper Halliford. Hence in order for the gravel extraction to take place the footpath needs to be diverted round the outside of the extraction works.
 
The Diversion Order
 
"To divert a public footpath requires a Public Path Temporary Diversion Order, which Surrey County Council (SCC) have now applied for, as of 7th October 2020. If the order is unopposed the diversion order will be granted by SCC themselves. If the order is opposed (by even a single formal letter of objection) then the order together with any letters of objection are required to be sent to the Secretary of State for the Environment to be assessed by their inspectorate team.
 
Why is this diversion order important?
 
"If, as I am, you are opposed to the gravel extraction plan and the diversion of the footpath 53 then this is an opportunity to raise an objection against the footpath diversion to the Secretary of State for Environment.
 
"The Secretary of State inspectors are an independent body and will fairly assess both sides of the case. It is an opportunity to get an independent view on the justification for the footpath diversion which will in turn affect plans for the gravel extraction programme.
 
If, like myself, you feel that the extraction planning process has been stacked against the opinions of local residents then this is a valuable opportunity to get an independent view.
 
What could be the result?
 
"1. If one formal letter of objection is raised then the order needs to be sent to the Secretary of State for Environment for assessment, but nothing more.

2. If many letters of objection are received then a public enquiry may be required.
3. If there is significant public objection the inspectorate may not grant the application to divert the footpath, in which case there would need to be at the very least a significant delay and reworking to the gravel extraction plans to allow public access along the existing route, possibly even a complete re-submission of the extraction plans.
4. Even the possible abandonment of the gravel extraction plan if the changes prove too costly or impractical.

 
Some of the issues with the footpath diversion
 
"The proposed diversion takes a long and tortuous route around the periphery of the works about twice as long as the existing route across the field (please see map on accompanying Diversion order).


"The diverted path will travel adjacent to the main gravel extraction processing plant which to quote SCC’s own neighbour information note consists of: “A crusher house (5m wide,10m wide, 12m high); a washing and primary grading (screening) house ... In the open within the processing plant site would be conveyors, sand tower infrastructure and mineral stockpiles.

 
"An industrial wasteland with lorries transporting gravel onto a 12metre high conveyor belt with gravel stockpiles and a dusty, noisy crushing pl ant are hardly the places to walk the dog! The processing plant itself measures approximately 70 metres long (similar in size to a football pitch).
 
"The footpath diversion must show that it does not adversely affect public enjoyment of the open space. Hence there is a strong case for objecting to the diversion on the grounds that it significantly and adversely affects public enjoyment of the open space.The site will be floodlit 24 hours of the day every day, so apart from the obvious disturbance to

neighbouring houses there will be significant light pollution and no darkness in the area. Generally not in keeping with a public open space.

 
"The duration of the diversion is for a maximum period of 25 years which can hardly be classed as temporary and it has been extended to this number of years because the council cannot predict when the gravel works will be completed and the field restored. In effect SCC have allowed CEMEX to take up to 25years to complete the gravel extraction works before the footpath diversion needs to be re-instated.To clarify this point, the gravel extraction programme is nominally for 6 years, but the actual period is dependent on the rate of sale of gravel and availability of backfill material, so it will be easy for CEMEX to extend the works should they wish, up to the 25 year deadline.
 
What can be done?
 
"The deadline for objections to reach Surrey County Council is Friday 13th November. If you are against the gravel extraction plans and wish to stop this footpath diversion please send in your written objections either by post or email to: Countryside Access Team (quoting reference DJ/AW/3/1/86) at Whitebeam Lodge, Merrow Depot, Merrow Lane, Guildford GU4 7BQ not later than 13 November 2020 or by email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
"Please state the grounds on which your objection is made and note that it is individual representations that count the most. Group petitions are counted as only a single objection.

 

"Yours Sincerely,
 
"John Douglass (Shepperton Resident)"
 
 
A copy of the Order and the Order Map may be seen by appointment free of charge at Countryside Access, Whitebeam Lodge, Merrow Depot, Merrow Lane, Guildford, GU4 7BQ (by appointment only - telephone 0300 200 1003) and at Shepperton Library, High Street, Shepperton, TW17 9A during opening hours. A copy of this notice may also be viewed on the County Council website www.surreycc.gov.uk. Copies of the Order and Map may be bought from the County Council at the price of £4.

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