Saturday, 23 August 2014

Forest Holidays at Fineshade Wood - update

Hello again,

Following a period of relative calm, there has been a flurry of activity this week. 

Firstly, on Wednesday there was an (unaccompanied) site visit from councillors on the planning committee who came to view both the Forest Holidays (FH) site and also the Glamping site. Residents were not allowed to talk to the councillors. The planning officer for the FH proposal was not present as he has been ill this week - they may therefore have only got as far as Top Lodge itself  and not entered the wood at all. But they should have been able to see the problems with road access - probably the most easily understood problem for most councillors.

Secondly, also on Wednesdaythree extra documents from FH appeared on the ENC website under 14/01156/FUL.
These are:
Final Ecological Report (104 pages inc, Appendices)
Ecological Procedural Method Statement (7 pages)
Habitat Management Plan  (10 pages)

Most of you have already objected to the proposal but there may be extra information here which will warrant a second submission. Below this email are some interim comments from me that may help you decide whether you need to make another objection now. For those of you who have been keeping your powder dry so far, this may be the time to make your objection.  We have asked East Northants planning department for a deadline date but all we can glean, in the absence of the planning officer, is a re-assurance that comments may be submitted up to the time of determination (whenever that may be!)
Thirdly and perhaps most urgently, a new Screening Opinion (SO) request in relation to this application has also been published this week (see EN/14/01573/SCR) and is marked as Pending Consideration. The new request applies to a larger area than that considered before, so it provides the planning officer with a new opportunity to rule that this application requires an Environmental Impact Assessment. His earlier decision against EIA was queried by many of us including East Northant's own ecological advisers, the local Wildlife Trust. The WT advice is published with this new SO request and it would be possible for you to make a comment to help the planning officer now. An easy direct way to do this is to make a short (less than 1000 characters) comment using the online facility on the website. (NB needs to be done on this EN/14/01573/SCR page). In forming his opinion the planning officer has to decide whether "this Schedule 2 development is likely to have significant effects on the environment" - perhaps worth remembering that planners see the environment as wider than simply ecological concerns. For example, one planning officer elsewhere argued that a FH development was worthy of EIA because "the proposals will introduce built form into the existing recreational woodland with the potential to change the character of the woodland". Sometimes the terms Environmental Impact Assessment - EIA-  and Ecological Impact Statement EcIA are used )

Finally, as far as the Glamping proposal is concerned, no news may be good news: the applicant seems not to have provided the very substantial missing information from his application and without that it is almost impossible for ENC to grant the planning permission. Determination will apparently be sometime in September.

I hope all this makes sense - please do get back to me if any queries.

Best wishes for a very good bank-holiday weekend.

Barrie Galpin
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