Response 899423910

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Seeking your views

4. Please provide your comments on the environmental permit application received from East Kent Recycling Limited

Please provide your comments on the environmental permit application received from East Kent Recycling Limited (Required)
Strategic Dimension At a strategic level, before considering the permitting details, the EA should consider seriously whether permitting on this site should be considered at all. The site itself is a hangover from a bygone age. Environmental values have changed so dramatically in the past decades such that such open-to-air industrial activity on a site creating noise and dust should not be permitted. The site itself is: - on a flood plain subject to tidal and rainwater flooding; - located adjacent to the ecological gem of Oare Creek and the Swale that is recognised in both international and national designations; and also to a future Nature Park on the old Oare Gravel Works. These unique ecosystems are being degraded by the noise, dust, nighttime lighting, and vehicle movements associated with the site; - it is close to residences at Oare and Davington, Davington primary school and the housing development currently taking place at Oare Gravel Works - to reach the site the vehicles have to pass through either Ospringe or Teynham with ongoing air quality issues or through the narrow streets of Faversham with its historic buildings. All of these carry fundamental adverse environmental implications. 4. In short, the site is in the wrong place from any number of environmental perspectives and permitting should not be considered. Why permit a site where the EA will constantly be fighting against the grain? On our side of the Creek in Oare, our local fisherman’s application to develop his business, which received general local support, was rejected solely on the grounds that it was sited on a flood plain. There needs to be consistency. There are much better located sites; for instance EKR’s sister site at Aylesham where it is also seeking planning permission (KCC/DO/0474/2018) that seems to carry none of the same environmental downsides. 5. Such an overall strategic decision is reinforced by EKR’s, unlike the ordinary citizen’s, seemingly lax compliance with permitting as evidenced by the frequent complaints from Oare residents, the major intervention by the EA early last year, the environmental fine at EKR’s other site and the fact that it is seeking unspecified retroactive permissions in its current application. Detailed Comments 6. I live directly opposite the site at Pheasant Barn and from our complaints to the EA over the past five years you will realise our, and other Oare residents’, two principal environmental concerns are to do with noise and dust from the site. Considering each of these in turn. Noise 7. There is strong evidence that continuous noise causes annoyance and stress that in turn trigger hormones (cortisol, noradrenalin, adrenalin) that lead to cardiovascular diseases as well as a loss of personal wellbeing (WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines www.euro.who.int). EKR currently have no noise restrictions and at times the noise has been intolerable. The concern of Oare residents is that the desk calculations of noise levels used by EKR to support its planning application are over-optimistic, especially when consideration is given to the proposed addition of a concrete crusher. 8. In any event, the only noise measurements taken at Oare and shown as LT1 in EKR’s planning application are invalid and need to be repeated for the following reason. 9. The LT1 measurements were carried out in our garden at Pheasant Barn. On a Wednesday in our absence, the recording tripod was chained to a tree in a birch grove on uneven ground. When we arrived home at noon on the Saturday, we found the tripod prone in the long grass. It categorically did not fall over when we arrived, it was definitely in that state on our arrival at noon. What caused it to fall over and when this might have happened are indeterminate - it might well have been erected unstably in the first place. My point is that since the time for which it was prone is unknown, all the data prior to noon on the Saturday are invalid and should be excluded from the data set. 10. I righted the tripod shortly after our arrival at noon. However, EKR have chosen deliberately to misinterpret my communication and excluded the data from 12.06 hours to 19.00 hours on the Saturday. I know that the data set is valid for this period because I myself righted tripod and was in the garden all afternoon. I have consistently told them this. This data set, conversely, should be included not excluded. The EA should probe EKR/Waterman on why it is challenging my integrity and excluding this data. 11. However, even taking the LT1 data at face value it shows a maximum 96dB reading. This, notwithstanding the fact that this noise level would be attenuated by the tripod being located within a sheltering grove of birches, was in all likelihood prone in long grass for a long period and was situated in our garden beyond our barn and at the furthest remove from the EKR site. According to World Health Organisation guidelines 70dB can lead to a loss of hearing. You will appreciate that dB is a logarithmic not linear scale so the recording of 26dB above the guideline represents the power of the noise being around 400 times greater than the recommended threshold for hearing loss. 12. Moreover, according to the table, the logarithmic noise average of 59dB Laeq also exceeded the World Health Organisation guideline level of 45-53dB Laeq for serious annoyance by a factor of around ten times. (All noise guidelines taken from WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region www.euro.who.int) 13. The LT1 measurements were taken some 350m from the EKR site so people walking along the Creek footpaths, and for us working in our garden, would be subject to much louder noise (akin maybe to the noise difference between an airport terminal and on the runway itself). 14. The misinterpretation of my communication on the tripod falling over, the face value measurements themselves, the fact that EKR is not proposing any noise baffling around the perimeter of the site (a previous application included the raising of the bund around the site) coupled with the addition of a concrete crusher, lead residents to be suspicious of likely noise levels from the site. 15. My recommendation would be for EKR to be required to install at its expense an onsite noise measurement device as part of the permit approval process. The daily measurements of average and maximum noise levels from the site should then be made publicly accessible over the internet in the same way as roadside pollution measurements. Measurement should not have to come out of the public purse. 16. The permitting process would also set average and maximum noise levels from the site consistent with WHO guidelines. The permit would also be explicit about the consequences in terms of fines or enforcement measures in the case of non-compliance. 17. Such rigorous monitoring is doubly important since EKR has previously violated its permits on this site and on its other site and is seeking retrospective permissions as part of its planning application. Dust 18. Attached are two photographs taken on 3rd July 2018 of clearly visible particulate clouds emanating from the EKR site which I took to send to KCC in response to the revised planning application from EKR. In the dry summer, such clouds were produced multiple times during the day as skips were unloaded and separated. On this particular day, the particulate clouds were blowing on the northerly wind towards Davington and Davington Primary School. 19. The heavier particles settle on the leaves of nearby vegetation preventing them from absorbing sunlight and slowly killing the trees and shrubs. This has a knock on effect on the insects that live on the leaves and the birds that feed on them, thus degrading the ecosystem. I also attach two photographs of the unhealthy, malnourished looking trees to the south of the site, the site of the future Nature Park. I should add that all the photographs are amateurish long range shots because access anywhere close to the site is strictly prohibited. 20. However, the fact that the trees are finding it difficult to breathe is like the proverbial canaries down the coal mine. The lighter particles will be carried on the wind towards local residents and the Primary School. Concrete and mortar contain up to 70% silica which can lead to silicosis and may also be linked to lung cancer (www.HSE.gov.uk). The workplace exposure limit is 0.1mg/cubic metre; one doesn’t need a measuring device to assess that the frequent visible clouds of dust are vastly in excess of this. 21. In a wealthy, democratic society I do not believe that such persistent emissions should be allowed from any industrial site in the 21st century. Period. Never mind one near to residences and in a very environmentally sensitive area. 22. I would therefore strongly recommend that the site be subject to zero particulate emissions in future. This is doubly vital since EKR is applying to handle asbestos and carry out concrete crushing in future. 23. To ensure compliance I would further recommend that as part of the application EKR install a number of atmospheric particulate measuring devices around its perimeter fence (to cover the main wind directions) and the data be fed directly to the internet for public access. 24. Once again enforcement measures and the level of fines for non-compliance need to be explicitly spelt out in the permitting. Paragraph 17 above on previous permitting violations also applies. Water 25. The site is on a flood plain. As you are aware we had a tidal surge overnight in December 2013 (following on from the incidents of 1953 and 1983) which came over the sea wall. On the grazing marsh on our side of the Creek the sea water was some two meters deep and carried everything with it as the sea water rapidly and powerfully flowed back out. With rising sea levels due to climate change the probability of a recurrence in the medium term must be high. 26. At the same time the seawall on the EKR side of the Creek is being constantly compacted and eroded at the margins by the continuous procession of HGV pulling trailers with five or so heavy skips. Moreover, in its application, EKR wants to double the number of heavy vehicles. Surely, with a view to preserving the integrity of the seawall, the EA should be imposing a weight limit on vehicles using it. 26. Although notice is given of such tidal surges, the EA must convince themselves that everything on site can be cleared/fastened down to prevent any debris being carried into the Creek in the event of such a surge. 27. A more persistent issue that has arisen (probably also as a consequence of climate change) is the concentration of rainfall in the early winter months. We are experiencing much heavier downpours such that we now have temporary winter standing water on the grazing marsh on our side of the seawall; I presume a similar situation obtains on the EKR side. Once again the EA must reassure itself that the site filtration system will cope with frequent heavy downpours so that no particulate matter overflows directly into the water table, aquifers or the Creek. Lighting 28. The current lighting on site is completely at variance with the environment surrounding the site. At night the bright white lights from the site illuminate the whole Creek and our marsh fields on our side, militating against the wildlife in general and in particular the owls that before EKR used to be frequent visitors. The permitted lighting in future needs to be much more sympathetic in the very rich ecological niche in which it is situated and solely light the site in yellow light. This is doubly important since EKR are seeking permission significantly to extend the hours during which vehicles can arrive and depart the site and presumably would want the site lit during these extended hours. Even with improved lighting, the EA should restrict site illumination to just site operating hours and it should not be allowed in the extended hours sought by EKR for arrival and departure of vehicles. Vehicles 29. From the current site activity, vehicles’ reversing beepers are particularly penetrating (they were designed precisely to be so). The EKR application declares that in future all reversing beepers will be suppressed on site. This must apply to all vehicles using the site not just EKR vehicles. At present there are many third-party vehicles visiting the site. 30. This is particularly relevant if KCC agrees to the extended hours for vehicles. The reversing beepers are audible inside our barn and we do not want to be awakened at 4am. NB. Photos to follow on a separate email, they would not attach.