The OLRG (Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group) which has four councillors on Tandridge District Council, has written to all Surrey County Councillors on the County planning committee to ask them to vote against increasing the daily limit of HGVs using Chalkpit Lane in Oxted.
The OLRG says Surrey County Council is proposing a” massive daily limit” of 156 HGVs for approval at its Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 17 .
The OLRG has also included Warlingham Surrey County Councillor and County Leader David Hodge in its letters – the OLRG claims if the daily limit of lorries to and from the quarry in Chalkpit Lane is increased, it is only a matter of time before there will be a collision with an HGV involving injury or loss of life.
The OLRG says it has engaged transport consultant Vectos which has completed a thorough review of the HGV route which has been sent to the County Council. According to the residents group “it highlights how inadequate Chalkpit Lane and Barrow Green Road are to cope with HGV traffic. In many places it is impossible for an HGV and a car to pass.”
The OLRG has also submitted a letter to Surrey County Council from its solicitor and is now taking further legal advice because the group councillors believe approval of such a high daily HGV limit represents an unacceptable risk to those travelling in Oxted.
In a statement issued this week the OLRG says: “Dozens of residents have written to the County Council detailing the daily dangers they face from the HGVs which travel through Oxted on narrow roads, parts of which are without a pavement and which schoolchildren use to walk to school. Residents have warned that someone will be badly injured or killed if such a high daily limit is approved.
“Because we believe that Surrey County Council has not taken proper account of the very widely expressed public concern and has not carried out adequate safety assessments, OLRG has been forced to engage professional advice to try to protect Oxted’s residents and schoolchildren.”
Three Oxted residents who live on or close to the lorry route, including OLRG Tandridge District Councillor Jackie Wren, will be speaking at Wednesday’s meeting.
OLRG has now sent a second solicitor’s letter to the County Council stating that throughout the County Council’s report on the Chalkpit “there is an acknowledgment, and even agreement in many places, with the issues raised by OLRG. Nevertheless, there is no attempt to demonstrate how these concerns will be alleviated. Instead, the Report maintains its recommendation of a daily cap of 156 HGV movements with inadequate justification.”
The solicitor’s letter which talks about the intimidation of other road users by the HGVs, emphasises that any decision to approve the huge proposed limit will be unsound because Surrey County Council has not justified it and the methodology relied upon for it is wholly inadequate.
Wednesday’s meeting of the County’s Planning and Regulatory Committee is being held at County Hall in Kingston. It starts at 10.30am and will be webcast.
Tandridge District Council Leader Martin Fisher commented: “I spent a morning meeting residents who live on Chalkpit Lane and listening to their concerns about the number of lorries using the road to access the quarry.
“Again and again, I heard stories about the lorries making lives quite intolerable for local people, some of whom have children in local schools and have concerns about the dangers the current volume of traffic poses.
“The history makes for stark reading. In 2005 the Environment Agency (EA) granted permission for the operator to infill the quarry with 100,000 tons of inert material a year. This was in addition to the 18,000 tons of chalk extracted annually since the 1930s.
“Without consultation with Tandridge District Council or Surrey County Council, the EA decided to increase the licence to 200,000 tons a year, doubling the amount of lorries. The residents and I are very angry this decision was taken without consultation.
The issue will be discussed at Surrey County Council’s next Planning and Regulatory Committee on 17 October and I have been given the opportunity to speak on the matter and will fight for this every step of the way.
“I have also set up a meeting with Sam Gyimah, MP for East Surrey, Councillor David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council and Oxted’s Surrey County Councillor Cameron McIntosh, to discuss this.”
Oxted’s Surrey County Councillor Cameron Macintosh added: “It is important to remember, that the Environment Agency (EA) granted permission for the operator to increase the amount of movements to and from the site.
“This was done without any consultation with Surrey which is the highways authority. It is also the case that the EA does not need to consult with the Local Authority as it only takes in to account what happens on the site, but does not consider the surrounding road network.
“I do believe this is wrong, and national legislation around this needs to change.
We are proposing conditions, no movements in school drop off and pick up hours, compensation from the operator for any damage to the highway which we feel is the right thing to do. As well as the (maximum) 156 movements a day (The operator is asking for 200 movements a day).
“Currently, there are no conditions in place which is why it is my priority to get these agreed at committee.
“I will make it clear- I believe 156 movements (maximum) a day, is still too high taking into account the unsuitable road network. However, the assessment we have carried out to reach this figure follows government guidelines which go back to 1993.
“This is what every council, every highways authority, across the country has to follow and we have to work within the given framework. As frustrating as that has been, and still is, if we don’t then the operator will look to take legal action on the basis that we are effecting his business.
“But as I have said, this is not about Surrey County Council in fear of being sued, although, of course this is a significant issue that we need to consider. But speaking with officers, this would have implications on the other sites we have in Surrey and any future applications.
“As the County Councillor, I believe this can be a step by step process. We can look at this again. But right now my priority is to get something in place we can work on, one we can build on if necessary. I am not proposing the site should be closed, as the operator has a right to run a business, but we can manage this, working for both residents and the operator.
“Right now, the current situation is working solely for the operator. I believe we are going in the right direction, and I am positive about what we can achieve.”