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Concrete Batching

In 2018 an application to develop a concrete batching plant at Rush Green Farm in Langley, on the
B656 between Hitchin and Codicote was approved. I have been opposed to this development since
the beginning along with a huge number of local citizens, but it seemed to slip through relatively
unnoticed. It started with a vague and poorly publicised ‘consultation’, which many residents
didn’t even receive. Indeed, when I raised this issue again locally in 2019, many residents still
were unaware the concrete batching plant had even been proposed, let alone the fact they had
missed their opportunity to enjoy their democratic right to voice their opinion. In spite of this
consultation reaching fewer people than it should, the application still managed to generate 198
responses on the NHDC planning applications website page; 191 public and 7 private, including our
local MP, and all of them objecting strongly.

Somehow, it still passed – a fact local Councillors still have trouble explaining today.

This is not a NIMBY problem. Clearly there are the very real local issues: adding an additional 50+
HGVs per day to the congested B656, which is already at breaking point at rush hours through
Codicote and near the Three Moorhens roundabout in Hitchin, with its related problem of air
pollution (official air quality monitoring records illegal levels of emissions here on a regular basis).
There is also the dust and particulate hazard to road safety and public health, flood risk and the
very real threat to our precious local chalk aquifer from toxic run off from onsite waste water and
materials (there are only 160 chalk streams worldwide, 120 in England – they must be protected),
not to mention the huge amount of water demanded to run a thirsty concrete batching plant,
drawn from a local water supply already struggling to manage local requirements. The plant will
only employ seven people and will not benefit the local community in any way – it is purely a
money maker for the huge cement giant Breedon Ltd, trying to take advantage of outdated local
building regulations, for future housing developments which are known to have been
overestimated and are currently under review.

However, for many of us it’s more of a NOOP problem – Not On Our Planet! We are currently in a
climate emergency situation and supposed to be preparing for a Net Zero emissions UK by 2050. If
the cement industry were a country, it would be the third highest emitter on the planet.

There is a huge push towards cleaner and more environmentally friendly building methods and
surely, we all have to support this transition, by phasing out the old and welcoming in the new.
There is plenty of local access to concrete for those projects still using the old way, we do not need
to increase availability. If we are to have new construction material plants, they must be using new
technologies and producing environmentally friendly building products, not the outdated Portland
cement which is proposed to come out of this development.

I continue to object to this project regularly, both at zoom meetings and by email. Work has
started on the preparations and as I cycle past daily on my way to work, it jabs me like a thorn in
my side. There are still many unanswered questions on the environmental assessment and
ecological mitigations; surface water issues; construction methods and management of
construction traffic. The permission was granted with many conditions and I have been assured
through email communications with the officers involved with the project that these conditions
are being monitored. However, there is no information forthcoming as to how or when the
conditions are being assessed, and the qualifications of the person tasked with decision making on
such an important issue. These questions still remain unanswered, but I am determined to be a
voice in the background reminding them that the local community is concerned and expects the best protection from our local council. I still naively hope that one day very soon someone brave
will stand up in the council offices and question this before it goes too far, with the evidence of
increasingly frightening predictions of serious climate breakdown as sufficient reason to halt
projects that do further harm.

Nicky and other Green campaigners regularly speak up against unsustainable developments