Covers Farm Quarry Application KCC/SE/0495/2018

Covers Farm, a disused sand quarry

Covers Farm is a disused sand quarry one mile to the west of Westerham and south of the M25, an area of 46 hectares. The official and current vehicular entrance to the site is from the A25 between Moorhouse and Westerham.

Restoration after sand extraction: the 1983 plan

As a planning pre-condition of the extraction, there is an obligation to restore the site to its original state. A Kent County Council approved plan has been in place since 1983. The plan (SE/83/1511) sought ‘to secure an orderly and progressive pattern of working and restoration of the site’ and ‘its integration back into the pattern of land use of the locality’.   This plan entailed importing either nothing to the site or at the utmost, 300,000 cubic metres of material – less than half what the current application wants to bring in. Less than half the number of lorries, with all their emissions, noise, dust and vibration.

The current application

Reference number. KCC/SE/0495/2018   “Stabilisation and restoration of Covers Farm Quarry using imported engineering materials to restore the site to grassland, including landscape planting and an ecological receptor area together with a temporary road and ancillary buildings at Westerham Kent”. The proposer is Morants Promotions Ltd, for the Squerryes Estate, the owner of the site.

What the new proposer wants to do

The current applicant claims that the 1983 plan is not “fit for purpose”, arguing that the steep faces of the quarry need to be stabilised and that the water that’s accumulated in the northern dip needs to be displaced by tipping hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of construction waste into it.  These claims can be refuted.

For more on how the applicant seeks to justify this massive importation of material please click here .

Brasted, Sundridge, Biggin Hill blighted with lorries

The new proposal entails bringing to the quarry site 0.8 million cubic metres of construction waste in 84,200 four-axle tipper trucks, either a) via Beggars Lane and the A25 through Brasted and Sundridge, coming from Junction 5 of the M25, or b) via the Main Road through Biggin Hill (A233) and on down Westerham Hill. A third route via Clark’s Lane (B2024) was mooted for up to 15% of the total infill, but in the applicant’s 2022 submission this was ruled out.

The application estimates that the project will take 5-6 years. Operating hours would be 7 am – 6pm on weekdays. There would be 150-200 two-way HGV movements over an 11 hour day, or an extra lorry moving on local roads every 3.3 minutes.

The applicant’s Transport Statement says that there will be 14 and 18 two-way trips per hour, assuming an 11-hour working day. This corresponds to the forecast 150-200 daily lorry movements. However, that’s if the deliveries are evenly spread throughout the day. RPS Traffic Consultancy Services, conducting research for Westerham Town Council on Covers Farm, estimate that deliveries are more likely to occur (70%) during the morning with as many as 30 lorries during the peak hour.

North Westerham blighted with lorries

Both major approach routes will converge on the Beggars Lane BP Garage roundabout, from where the tipper trucks will travel along a specially constructed 4-metre wide ‘haul road’, which will run between Churchill Primary School and the M25. This will add to the traffic noise experienced by the children and the bad air pollution emanating from the M25, an Air Quality Monitoring Area for nitrous oxide.

From there 84,200 tipper trucks would traverse a specially created stoplight crossing on the Croydon Road, within the 60mph limit, just on the bend as the road emerges from underneath the motorway underpass.

Just to recap: 150-200 two-way lorry movements each weekday over an 11-hour day. This equates to an additional four-axle tipper truck moving every 3.3 minutes on local roads, for five or six years.

Why will the lorries use these routes? Where will the waste come from?

The fill material is largely expected to come from the south-east London area, and  The individual routes will depend on the source of the material. Please see the maps below. The key routes are the B269, B2024, A25 (East) and the A233

Traffic congestion and road safety = material planning considerations

The Government guidance on planning decisions, the National Planning Policy Framework (revised 2021) says in Paragraph 111:

‘Development should only be prevented or refused if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative effect on the road network would be severe.

Keep Westerham Green would argue that the the six or more years of eight-wheeler trucks on local roads would make an unacceptable impact on highway safety. Read more about the impact on roads in Biggin Hill, Brasted and Sundridge, the Croydon Road in Westerham and Tatsfield.

Because of the Covers Farm lorries that would pass through Keston and Biggin Hill, the London Borough of Bromley has objected to KCC/SE/0495/2018 on the grounds of the harmful impact to highway conditions.

For details about the proposed ‘haul’ road please click here.

For information about the lorries’ potential impact on air quality, noise and vibration please click here .

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