The applicant wanted approval for an agricultural storage lagoon at Dane End, near Ware, containing up to 10,000 cubic metres of human and animal food waste for eventual use as agricultural biofertiliser. Local objectors formed an opposition group, Stop Lagoon At Dane End (‘SLADE’), to highlight their concerns.
SLADE argued that the lagoon would be unsightly and polluting, cause odour and generate numerous heavy vehicle movements. To ensure that their objections were based on legally admissible planning issues, SLADE enlisted the help of our firm’s specialist planning lawyers, and departmental head Salvatore Amico took on the case.
“The local residents who formed SLADE are understandably delighted at this decision,” Salvatore said afterwards. “We worked closely with them to demonstrate the reasons why this application should be refused and, thankfully, the councillors agreed. It was very important to put forward objections valid under planning rules.”
Ahead of the development control committee meeting, Salvatore sent a long and detailed letter of objection to East Hertfordshire District Council, putting the specific legal and environmental arguments. These were unavoidably complex and legalistic, but here Salvatore explains briefly the main arguments that were deployed:
“Although biofertiliser is often presented as good for the ecosystem, a lagoon at this location would not have had a green environmental impact. It was very clear during a six-month consultation period last year that local opposition was fully justified, with concerns about potential water source pollution, odours and HGVs on minor roads.
“My clients were not convinced that, as claimed by the applicant, the biofertiliser produced would be piped onto farmland near the site. Analysis of local farmers’ intentions pointed to weak local demand, meaning that most of the biofertiliser would have needed transporting away in bulk.
“SLADE understood that the lagoon site might well have been over a ‘principal aquifer’, raising the risk of digestate getting into the groundwater, especially in the absence of a thorough containment and flood protection plan. Dane End was also an unsuitable site because it’s not close enough to a main road to avoid the use of HGVs on narrow lanes.
“On top of the potential human impact was that on the flora and fauna. Insufficient provision had been made to safeguard the impact on trees and other foliage and there had been no ecology survey to ensure that protected wildlife species wouldn’t suffer severely. This all added up to a very sound case for refusal of permission.”