As explained earlier in the meeting there had been a number of questions asked prior to the meeting and responses had been provided. The Chairman invited the audience and Working Party to put forward any further questions they had. A number of questions were put to officers, including:
1. Who owned Liberty Construction Ltd?
It was confirmed that Angus McGee was currently the director and that this information was available through Companies House. Marie McIntosh was the Director of Link Property Developments Ltd.
2. As Robert Mann was no longer the Panel Engineer, had a new Panel Engineer been appointed and could he have a different solution?
Tony Deakin (EA) confirmed that this appointment was made by Liberty Construction and he had written to them asking for details of the new Panel Engineer. That person would review the documents.
3. Was there a plan to bring the matter to a conclusion?
Ruth Bamford explained that the Council was not able to make Mr McIntosh apply for planning permission, so there was nothing further to be done at this stage. If there were developments in the future then a course of action would be considered, dependant on those developments. Currently there was no planning harm being caused and the Council was content with the situation.
4. If the Council had done what it could then the matter must rest with the Environment Agency?
Tony Deakin responded that there were legal requirements to carry out, a site visit had been made in December and there were no immediate concerns. The EA would continue to look to the person responsible to address any issues, they would only step in where they had safety concerns, and currently they had no concerns.
Richard Williams from WRS also responded that they had been asked to look at how the site was being managed and that as there was continuous monitoring they were also happy with things as they stood.
5. The amount of over tipping and at what stage it would be agreed that enough was enough and no further tipping would be allowed.
Ruth Bamford explained that there had been over tipping on a previous planning application, for the development of a golf course. More than was given permission was tipped in this case. A topographical study was carried out which showed this and after that Mr Mann advised that more was needed to cap it. The professional view was that more was needed. Any application received would be scrutinised and evaluated. It was difficult to say what the Council would do until the situation arose.
Tony Deakin explained that originally there was no Panel Engineer appointed to oversee the reservoir, but one was appointed at a later date. That Panel Engineer required more soil to meet safety requirements, as the clay core needed sealing off.
6. Was the transfer notice on any planning permission?
Martin Quine, EA confirmed that the owners had been made aware during the December and March site meetings that planning permission was needed for anything further brought on to the site. The Council had made it clear that this was the case and nothing further could be done without an application.
7. Whether there were detailed plans as to where the 68k would go.
Martin Quine advised that the waste recovery plan (document approved with the Environmental Permit) specifies the location of where waste is deposited. The soils will need grading across the site. A topographical survey is required once works have been completed.
Further clarification was sought in respect of both the type of soil and where it would be placed as it had been suggested that the whole site would be cove red by 300 mm, and it was questioned why the whole site as it appeared that only about a quarter of it needed. Tony Deakin responded to the points raised and explained that Robert Mann, the Panel Engineer had said top soil was needed to protect the clay from the ingress of water. There were a number of patches around the site where soil was exposed for stability, where it would be placed and to what depth would be part of the planning application.
Ruth Bamford provided further back ground information in respect of the topographical survey which the Council had commissioned and the outcome of that survey. The Panel Engineer, Robert Mann, had said there were issues and this was separate to the original work the Council had commissioned. If a planning application came in which asked for more tipping to be carried out then the fundamental question to be asked would be the need to understand why.
8. As Robert Mann had stood down, were Liberty Construction legally obliged to appoint another Panel Engineer and if so were any formal meetings with the replacement envisaged?
Tony Deakin confirmed that as soon as a new Panel Engineer was appointed dialogue would commence and the new Panel Engineer would determine if a new report would be asked for and the EA would consider any appropriate actions that needed to be taken, however, at this stage no assumptions could be made.
9. There were a number of requirements from the EA report from 2014 which needed to be action, surely enough time had elapsed for us to now take legal action and why has this not been done.
Tony Deakin advised that the EA had taken action over the last few years, a number of the items in the report did not need planning position and had been actioned. The importation of the restoration soil was the only outstanding issue which required planning permission.
Ruth Bamford confirmed that Liberty Construction had spoken to the Planning Department in October and they were aware of what was needed, however an application had not to date been forthcoming.
10.Did the EA have the powers to carry out the work itself and recharge Liberty?
Tony Deakin explained that the majority of the work had been carried out, the EA would continue to monitor the situation but currently there were no safety issues and therefore it would not consider going down this route.
11.Further soil had already been put on site as requested by the Panel Engineer, who was employed by Liberty Construction, who monitored the type of soil which was put on the site.
Martin Quine from the EA confirmed that they had received the relevant paperwork in respect of this which would be scrutinised over the next 6 weeks. This included a contamination report which received in the last week and would also be analysed.
Concerns were raised in respect of what appeared to be misinformation and a lack of understanding of the situation and circumstances, in particular in respect of the broken culvert and impact of this. It was therefore suggested that the best course of action would be for a public enquiry to be called, which was support by some residents in attendance.
Those present continued to discuss the history of the site and events which had brought it to the current position. This included the lessons learnt exercise which had taken place in December 2011 and the suggestion that the inclusion of a weighbridge would have mitigated some of the previous problems. It was suggested that even if a weighbridge had been included in the requirement would have been for Liberty Construction to self-monitor. It was further suggested that the EA could be more proactive in dealing with the matter and that the responsibility now rested with them.
Ruth Bamford said that she appreciated that October to January seemed like a long time for residents,, but she explained what had happened and that from a legal perspective the Council needed to demonstrate that it had considered all the relevant issues at the time. Currently, due to actions taken by the Council activity had ceased at the site. If this recommenced then the Council would consider what action to take if necessary, at that time. In the meantime, the appointment of a new Panel Engineer was awaited by the site owner.