Environmental Considerations

Detailed studies of local ecology, landscape, traffic and more form part of our proposal at Rainham Lodge Farm.

Two people on a edge of a pool

Environmental Considerations

Detailed studies of local ecology, landscape, traffic and more form part of our proposal at Rainham Lodge Farm.

Environmental Considerations

Detailed environmental assessments have been carried out as part of the preparation for our planning application to extract sand and gravel from Rainham Lodge Farm. These independent assessments – and the proposals for mitigating any potential issues arising – have been conducted in line with the requirements of the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2017.

The assessments cover the lifetime of the proposed quarry from initial site preparation, through the operation phases, to final restoration of the site.

Below is an outline of each of the key environmental considerations (listed alphabetically) and the proposed measures to address the potential impacts. Full details of the environmental assessments and mitigations will be included in our planning application.

Air Quality

Assessing air quality
A detailed air quality assessment in line with Air Quality Standards Regulations (among other legislation and policy) has been carried out as part of the development of our planning application to date and the findings of the assessment were shared at our recent public consultation.

The assessment considered current air quality and potential impacts from the proposal at a number of locations (‘receptors’) around the site and along proposed vehicle routes, taking into account local meteorological conditions such as wind speed and direction. The area that covers Hacton Park Corner Farm was included within this air quality assessment along with Bushells Way and Suttons Lane that would incorporate the area around the planned St George’s Health and Wellbeing Hub.

Particulate matter
The study, which looked at the potential for finer particles of material to become airborne, as well as emissions from the proposed activities, in accordance with technical guidance, found that there would be negligible impact on air quality. With regards to ‘particulate’ matter (PM10), levels are expected to remain well within PM10 limit values and the assessment concludes that there would be little chance of the site causing any exceedance of PM10 limits.

In terms of concerns around Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS), it is widely accepted that any risk in relation to quarries is generally confined to the use of machinery inside buildings where silica dust is contained and could be a risk for employees if not correctly managed. As we are not proposing processes at Rainham Lodge Farm that could give rise to such conditions, the risk of generating RCS at Rainham Lodge Farm is assessed as being low.

Operational measures
The inherent moist nature of the sand and gravel from the ground means it is damp when it is extracted. The site will also be surrounded by bunds – banks made up of soils from the site –which will define each extraction phase. We also propose to design the quarry to maximise the distance between the ‘extractive areas’ and residential properties.

In addition, a number of good practice control measures are proposed to minimise any potential for dust from the site. These include:
• water sprays to dampen routes within the site during dry weather
• road sweeper to ensure the site access road is cleaned
• loading done carefully to prevent material becoming airborne
• speed restrictions enforced on site
• ‘wheel wash’ close to the exit to clean lorries before they leave
• lorries would have their loads covered before leaving site

With reference to vehicle emissions, there will be no net increase in vehicle movements in the wider and so the impact on air quality from these would be negligible. This is particularly the case given that the entire Brett fleet of trucks complies with the latest European ‘Euro VI’ emissions standards (the only ones approved for use in Ultra Low Emission Zones).

Monitoring air quality
As part of any planning application we will submit a detailed Dust Management Plan which would detail the site mitigation measures to be put in place as identified within the air quality assessment carried out and in line with industry standards/best practice. If planning permission is granted, we would expect this Dust Management Plan and the monitoring of it, to be a requirement of a planning condition.

Archaeology

Soil removal for quarrying can sometimes reveal archaeological remains and many remarkable discoveries have been made due to quarrying. However, a geophysical survey and trial trenching at Rainham Lodge Farm found scant archaeological remains and it is likely that there is not much of archaeological merit beneath the surface.

Nonetheless, as a matter of course, during soil removal activities we pay close attention to identify anything that may be archaeological interest. Any finds are reported to the local authority and appointed archaeologists are brought in to assess any finds.

Ecology

As part of our extensive environmental studies, a wealth of information has been gathered in relation to the ecology on the site, and has considered any potential impacts considered in line with international conventions and designations, as well as national legislation and designations.

The application area is not within Hornchurch Country Park or nearby Ingrebourne Marshes SSSI, but there is potential overlap with the edge of a Local Nature Reserve designation, and the site is adjacent to grassland and wetland habitats to the west. Most of the site is used for arable crops but there are some field margins with wildflowers and areas of ecological value at the perimeter of the site.

The proposed quarrying activity has been sensitively designed to avoid impacts on those parts of the site with the highest ecological value, most notably along the River Ingrebourne corridor (as well as all woodland). We are also proposing to maintain a significant distance between extraction areas and nearby habitats with new flower-rich meadowland in the area between the two.

The ecological assessment concludes that the proposed measures, along with the planned progressive restoration will more than sufficiently offset the impacts resulting from a marginal  overlap into the edge of the designated Local Nature Reserve. The restoration in particular is assessed as representing a significant ecological enhancement and a net gain in biodiversity for the site in the long term.

Brett has a long history of award-winning quarry restoration to enhance biodiversity and the net long-term effect of the proposals would be positive for local ecology. See section on Restoration.

Landscape and Visual

The landscape and visual assessment has closely examined the landscape character of the area around Rainham Lodge Farm and how the terrain might be affected by the introduction of phased mineral extraction as proposed.

In particular, the potential visibility of the development from six ‘viewpoints’ has been carefully considered. This study has helped to inform the design, layout, method of working and restoration of the land.

Examination of the viewpoints indicates that the current landform is largely able to accommodate the temporary changes brought about by the proposed quarrying activity.

See the six viewpoints

Taking into consideration the way the site is intended to be worked – plus the additional screening around the working area – the assessment concluded that no significant landscape or visual effects are expected as a result of the proposed development.

Overall, the physical change to landscape is considered to be ‘slight’ during site preparation and establishment stages, and rated as ‘moderate’ during the working phases of the quarry. As the progressive restoration of the site continues, any visual impact would reduce, becoming ‘slight’ again and eventually ‘beneficial’ after final restoration of the site.

Noise

For the assessment in relation to noise, the proposed site activity has been modelled based on detailed historic auditory data for sand and gravel extraction, and assessed in alignment with recognised standards and guidance. In considering the potential for noise, existing background noise levels have been taken into account as a ‘baseline’ at key points around the site.

As a result of the assessment, the noise levels generated by operational activities (such as excavators, loading of lorries and vehicle movements) would be well within acceptable limits. Nevertheless, a number of good practice measures are proposed to further reduce any chance of potential adverse noise, especially the use of modern equipment which is quieter.

Transport

A comprehensive transport study has been undertaken and the detailed assessment will be included within our planning application. We propose that the ‘as dug’ sand and gravel that is extracted at Rainham Lodge Farm will be loaded directly onto lorries for a short transfer to our existing Rainham Quarry off Launders Lane, just 1.5 miles away. Here it will be washed and processed into different products required for local building and landscaping.

No vehicles would pass through residential areas and there will be no overall increase in lorry movements on local roads as the proposed site at Rainham Lodge Farm is a continuation of quarrying activity at East Hall Farm near Wennington. The vehicle routing will obviously be different and we are reviewing a number of options to minimise the impact of vehicle movements on other road users.

In line with our current arrangements at East Hall Farm, our planning application proposes an absolute maximum of 96 vehicles travelling along this route over a typical working day, which represents an increase of up to 2.5% of total traffic using the roads. The actual number of lorries could be a lot less than that but our proposal takes into account the potential for occasional peak periods when there is a particularly high demand for building materials.

The entire Brett Group fleet of trucks conforms with the stringent requirements of FORS (Freight Operators’ Recognition Scheme) and CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety) to maintain the highest standards of safety for all road users. In addition our fleet of trucks complies with the latest European ‘Euro VI’ emissions standards (the only ones approved for use in Ultra Low Emission Zones).

Water

Within our assessment of hydrology and hydrogeology, we have looked closely at whether any aspect of the proposed development could affect surface or ground water. This includes consideration the River Ingrebourne and Ingrebourne Marshes SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). 

A detailed analysis across the site indicates that operation of the quarry would not adversely affect local water. Additionally, a water management plan will be submitted as part of our planning application, covering how water will be used and controlled on site.

Water for the proposed vehicle wheel wash and sprinkler system (for dust suppression) would be drawn from a newly-created lagoon into which surface and ground water will drain. This will also be a source of water for irrigation of crops in the immediate area. No pumping of water directly to the River Ingrebourne is proposed and any surplus water arising from rain fall would be safely directed to a soakaway pond to control its route to groundwater.