Enzygo Secures Planning Permission on Flood Plain

Enzygo Secures Planning Permission on Flood Plain

Nevertheless, providing planning procedures are followed, and the correct mitigation is employed, developers should not be put off by this, as a recent case study demonstrates.

Environmental consultancy, Enzygo, was able to gain planning permission for a new waste recycling and transfer complex even though it sat predominantly in a flood plain. Despite the scale of the challenge, full planning consent was issued within six months of submission of the planning application.

Enzygo was appointed to project manage the planning application for the new facility which occupies the site of the former derelict Theale Quarry plant site, extending to more than 5.5 hectares in size.

The site, under development by Reading-based Claude Fenton Holdings, will include an enclosed waste transfer and recycling facility, an inert waste aggregate recycling facility, recyclate storage and treatment building and workshop.

Following the closure of the former minerals quarry in 2007, the owner at that time, Hanson UK, sought a buyer for the land, believing that it was of low value due to its potential flood risk.

Claude Fenton Holdings, on the other hand, saw the potential the site could offer as a permanent waste management facility, to replace their temporary facility that the company currently operates, located on an adjacent piece of land.

Planning consent was first required and so Fenton’s brought environmental consultancy, Enzygo, on board to help guide it through the planning application process.

The key to the granting of planning consent were the measures, proposed by Enzygo, to mitigate flood risk by limiting surface water run-off together with the provision of robust flood compensation storage. Also important, was the close collaboration with the key agencies involved in the planning application process that ensured their support from the very earliest stages of the development.

According to Matt Fenton, director at Claude Fenton Holdings, “this project faced many challenges, particularly as the site was located within the flood plain with the area historically prone to flooding. However, because of Enzygo’s environmental expertise, coupled with its in-house multi-disciplinary approach, we were able to convince the Environment Agency and the local authority that, through mitigation, we could alleviate this risk and develop a much needed waste facility for the locality.”

Enzygo recommended a phased approach that dealt first with the key issue of flood risk, which was of most concern and would limit the overall project risk to the client. Over a period of six months, the company conducted extensive pre-application discussions with the EA to develop an acceptable flood compensation design before an agreement was reached.

As a starting point, Enzygo conducted sequential flood testing at more than 20 other existing identified waste transfer sites in West Berkshire in order to compare the suitability against that of the former Theale Quarry Plant site. The Theale site compared extremely favourably with these sites, assuming the flood risk issue could be satisfactorily resolved.

Enzygo also completed an extensive hydrology assessment of the overall flood risk to the site and, together with the necessary mitigation, developed a complex 2D model which was developed and agreed with the EA along with the sequential results of the other sites to address the flood risk concerns.

The measures proposed to mitigate flooding included raising the ground level of the proposed built development footprint out of the flood plain, to allow the safe access and egress during the event of a flood, while providing equivalent floodplain compensation land. Furthermore, vulnerable land uses (i.e. buildings) will be orientated onto raised land while less vulnerable uses (such as lorry parking and temporary skip storage) will be sited on the adjoining flood compensation land.

Despite the EA’s initial negative position, the sequential test evidence, hydrology assessment reports and 2D modelling satisfied the EA their flood risk concerns could be robustly addressed, which then allowed the planning application to be taken forward with confidence.

Enzygo then conducted discussion with a number of key stakeholders including West Berkshire Council planners, the Highways Authority, Environmental Health and all statutory consultees.

The submission to the local planning authority required a complex and wide-ranging set of supporting environmental assessments including noise, landscape visual impacts and ecology including the provision of bio-diversity enhancements within the site, as well as the critical flood risk and hydrology technical assessments.

Ecological bio-diversity improvements will encompass the creation of natural ecological habitats including a groundwater-fed ecological wetland feature, bare shingle areas and shallow bucket scrapes and the creation of warm butterfly edges within the retained western section of the site.

Despite the scale of the challenge, full planning consent was issued in February 2014, within six months of submission of the planning application.

The site ground works and infrastructure preparation works are now underway and the initial waste recycling and transfer station building framework is due to be delivered to the site in February which should be completed, and operational, by the following September 2015.

”The success of this project should demonstrate to all prospective developers that planning is achievable,” said Kevin Parr, director at Enzygo, “even on sites affected by flood risk, providing that robust flood compensation scheme is put in place and that proper consultation with the EA happens from the very start of the project inception.”

Enzygo is a specialist, multidisciplinary environmental consultancy operating throughout the UK, committed to providing commercially focused solutions for challenging and often complex development projects. With offices in Bristol, Sheffield and Monmouth, the company provides a holistic range of environmental services including hydrology, site planning, permitting and regulation, landscape architecture, ecology and traffic.

View the original article from Environment Analyst OnSite.