Councillor who ‘harmed’ countryside with the expansion of his business back before planning committee

Newark and Sherwood District Council headquarters
By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

A councillor said to have ‘harmed’ part of the countryside with the expansion of his wood fuel production business without permission is set to fight his case again in front of a council planning committee.

Councillor Roger Jackson’s operations at Old Epperstone Road, Lowdham attracted the attention of his own council’s planning department in February.

Officers from the authority assessed the company, called Tricky Trees, over concerns its expansion had encroached onto land beyond its existing planning permission.

The business collects waste wood and transforms it into logs and chips to be sold on to customers.

Cllr Jackson is a Conservative member of Newark and Sherwood District Council, and is the Portfolio Holder for Cleaner, Safer, Greener.

A retrospective planning application for the expansion was lodged in February by Cllr Jackson and his son, who owns the business alongside him, asking for permission for the expansion.

The council said, at the time, the yard area at the business has been increased by around 60 per cent, a figure Cllr Jackson disputes.

The application was deferred but is back before the council’s planning committee on August 11.

Cllr Roger Jackson

It was deferred to enable the applicant to undertake a Noise Impact Assessment and for any mitigation works to also be explored.

The retrospective application is for the change of use of agricultural land and extension to the existing wood fuel production business.

Planning officers at the council have recommended that the application be refused.

They said: “It is clearly apparent that the business has sprawled and evolved more so over a greater expanse of land since the earlier planning application was considered and the use of the land and activities taking place no longer form part of an agricultural business, as previously they may once allegedly have been.

“The industrial nature of the use that is being carried out across an extended site which is contained by earth bunds that have been formed as engineering operations has harmed the character of the landscape.

“The site falls within the Green Belt – and is by definition harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

“The applicant has not advanced a case to argue that ‘very special circumstances’ exist, nor are any considered to exist.”

Concerns were also raised about noise emanating from equipment being used at the site.  The noise survey highlighted that mitigation is required and also that noise from the wood chipper is such that it is causing a nuisance.

However, mitigation for the chipper is “prohibitively expensive” and therefore the applicant is no longer going to use it on site.

Officers state the application should be refused due to the impact upon the Green Belt.  Councillors will decide the fate of the application when they meet on August 11.

Cllr Jackson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service:  “I argue it is a rural agricultural business in the Green Belt. We have planning permission to do what we do there, but we have expanded it. I think the business would close (if planning permission is refused).”

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