Campaigners to seek judicial review after plant expansion is approved

Campaigners opposing a major expansion of a malt processing plant in Great Ryburgh near Fakenham are to seek a judicial review after the scheme was given planning permission today.

Campaigners opposing the major expansion of a malt processing plant in Great Ryburgh near Fakenham are to seek a judicial review after the scheme was given planning permission today.

Members of North Norfolk District Council's development committee voted 10 to 2 in favour of The Crisp Malting Group's expansion.

They were advised to consider the government's controversial new proposals to reform planning laws which introduce 'a presumption in favour of sustainable development.'

The Ryburgh Village Amenity Group (RVAG) has campaigned against the expansion and persuaded the district council to refer the matter back to the development committee after planning permission was originally granted in January 2010 to construct two silos, a 20,000 square metre lorry park with wash bay, a three metre tall earth bund, a surface water infiltration basin and office and staff car park.

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They have raised concerns about the potential pollution of the internationally important River Wensum, noise and light pollution and what they believe to be the inappropriate scale of the development.

They are angry that no Environmental Impact Assessment has been carried out, but the district council's case officer for the application Geoff Lyon insisted that no assessment was needed and recommended approval.

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Mr Lyon said the development was unlikely to have any significant effects on the environment and would reduce lorry movements in Great Ryburgh.

He also pointed the committee to the government's controversial new Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which aims to streamline planning and encourages planning authorities to favour business and housing developments.

The NPPF is opposed by groups including the National Trust and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England who believe it will lead to over development of the countryside.

Mr Lyon said at the meeting: 'The recently produced NPPF sets out the government's intention with regard to helping the economic recovery of the country.

'It is still a draft which could be changed but is a clear sign of the government's agenda to be pro-business and that is something the committee needs to bear in mind.'

Councillor Tom FitzPatrick, portfolio holder for business, enterprise and economic development, said: 'The Crisp Malting Group is an established business which provides quality jobs on its site and is an economic benefit to farmers across north Norfolk.

'We should be striving to support existing jobs in this difficult economic time.'

Euan Macpherson, managing director of the Crisp Malting Group told the committee that the company has been in Great Ryburgh since 1860, is an important business to the local economy and all issues had been dealt with diligently by the district council's planning officers.

RVAG member Matthew Champion said after the meeting: 'I am disappointed at this decision and particularly disappointed that councillors were told that they needed to support the economy when it is quite clear in the documentation that this scheme will not create any jobs or enable the business to expand.

'The company is relocating its lorries from a brownfield site in Hempton to the middle of a rural village.

'We will seek a judicial review and we already have the funds in place for this. 'I think we will have a strong case on the grounds of the inappropriate scale of the development alone.'

Approval was granted subject to conditions related to issues of drainage, lighting and tonnage output of malt.

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