§ 13. Mr. M. Stewart
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs why he allowed the appeal of D. Heath and Sons, Limited, against a refusal of planning permission by the Saffron Walden Rural District Council.
§ 23. Mr. Reynolds
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he will publish details of all the information on which he based his decision to allow the appeal of D. Heath & Sons, Limited, against a refusal of planning permission by the Saffron Walden Rural District Council.
§ Mr. Brooke
I cannot do better than send the hon. Members a copy of the decision letter sent on my behalf on 17th September, 1959. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the passage in this letter which explains why I differed from my inspector's recommendation to dismiss the appeal.
§ Mr. Stewart
Will the Minister also circulate to hon. Members concerned and make available to the House a copy of the inspector's report in this case? Does the Minister accept that this is, 185 as it has been described by the Lord Chancellor, a very serious matter, and has he noticed that the learned judge in the case of Buxton v. the Minister of Housing and Local Government said in effect that he did not believe the Minister's account of his consultations with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food?
§ Mr. Brooke
I will place in the Library a copy of the decision letter and also a copy of the inspector's report, which is a fairly lengthy document. As to the manner in which I reached this decision, that has been reported by the Council on Tribunals to the Lord Chancellor who has the matter under consideration. I do not think that, in those circumstances, I should be pressed to say anything more at this stage.
§ Mr. Reynolds
Is the Minister aware that he still seems to be indicating that only some of the information will be available? Will he give the House an assurance that at some time in the future all the information on which this decision was based will be available?
§ Mr. Brooke
I assure the hon. Gentleman that all the material information bearing on my decision is contained in the letter in question.
§ Following is the information:
§ Extract from decision letter dated 17th September, 1959:
§ The Minister notes that the Inspector's recommendation turned on his assessment of the amount of chalk dust likely to be caused. He agrees with the Inspector that the moisture content of the chalk would prevent dust arising from the proposed operations of winning and working, and that any risk of dust being blown on to neighbouring land would emanate mainly from the stockpile. Some of the fears expressed at the inquiry were based on the assumption that chalk would be finely crushed or burnt, but your clients said that these processes would not be carried out. The Minister has considered the risk of dust arising from stockpiling and subsequent handling of chalk and the effects such dust might have on plants and animals, and has consulted the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Although the possibility of some dust dispersal beyond the site cannot be entirely ruled out in the driest months, it seems to him that it would be occasional only and, with proper safeguards and having regard to the arrangements proposed by your clients, would be insufficient in quantity to cause damage to crops or livestock or to cause serious discomfort to persons living in the area. He is further satisfied that 186 chalk from the appeal site would make a useful contribution to an area which is partly dependent on pits lying at a distance and that it can be won from the site without harm to neighbouring interests. The Minister recognises the Council's desire to see the restoration of the gravel pit, but he cannot see that the amenity objections to continued mineral working are strong enough to outweigh the arguments in favour of exploiting land already disturbed by these operations. He has therefore decided to allow your clients' appeal subject to conditions.