The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road Improvement scheme

Received 10 June 2021
From National Farmers Union NFU


NFU OUTLINE REPRESENTATIONS ______________________________ 1. Introduction 1.1 These are the Outline Written Representations of the National Farmers Union (“NFU”) on behalf of their members to the application for a Development Consent Order by Highways England for the identified scheme A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Improvements. 1.2 The objectives of the NFU are to champion farming in England and Wales and to provide professional representation and service to its members. 1.3 The matters raised in these Written Representations are matters not only of concern to the farming owners of agricultural land affected by this DCO, but also of concern to, and raise points of principle that will affect, members of the NFU having farm holdings that may be affected by similar infrastructure schemes. 2. Consultation and Engagement 2.1 One to one meetings have been held between landowners and Ardent the agents acting for Highways England (HE) and the NFU would like to see negotiations continuing with members who are directly affected. The NFU understands from agents that HE is not keeping landowners updated and it is taking HE too long to respond to queries raised by agents. Further the NFU would like to enter into a Statement of Common Ground to understand and agree outstanding issues, especially the wording that is being sought on practical issues and the NFU would like to see being included in the First Iteration Environmental Management Plan (FIEMP). 3. Habitat Mitigation 3.1. Further to the response submitted to the consultation the NFU would still like to receive clarification as to why so much land is being taken for habitat mitigation and it is understood that (HE) have now identified a 20.5 % net gain. We understand that this might be being achieved through the enhancement of previous identified sites. Further clarification is required as the NFU would not want to see more land being compulsorily purchased to achieve a net gain on a linear infrastructure scheme. The NFU would like confirmation on what management agreements are to be put in place to maintain the habitat mitigation sites. 4. Access Routes and Accommodation Works 4.1. The NFU raised concerns over (HE) addressing new access routes that will be required once the new road is operational to land and also temporary access routes during construction which will be severed by the works. Further concerns where in regard to agreeing accommodation works at an early stage. The response provided by HE in the response consultation document is brief with no detail. The NFU understand from agents acting for members that meetings have been taking place, but further confirmation is required. 5. Construction Compound Sites 5.1 HE on plans submitted under the DCO has identified some large areas of land to be taken for construction compound sites. The NFU would like to see the detail of use for each compound site being detailed in the DCO particularly within Schedule 7, Article 40. At the present time it is stated that the areas will be used as a construction area ‘required to provide temporary storage, laydown areas, access and working space to facilitate the construction of…’ We require further detail on exactly what works may take place and what type of storage. This should be explicitly detailed for each compound. 6. Powers to Survey Land 6.1 It is noted that in the DCO under Paragraph 23: Authority to survey and investigate the land under 23.1 (b) ii it is stated that HE can discharge water from sampling operations. The NFU would like further detail on the types of sampling that is to be undertaken and the quantities water that could be discharged. The NFU is pleased to see that 23.3. does state that the nature of the survey must be stated in the notice. The NFU would further like to see that the ALO as part of its role is to: “Provide preconstruction survey information to landowners including company name, survey type and equipment to be used, an estimate of how long the surveys are expected to take and where surveys are to take place on land outside of the Order limits, an explanation of why such land is required”. 7. Temporary use of land for carrying out the authorised development 7.1 It is noted that in the DCO at Paragraph 40 ‘Temporary use of land for carrying out the authorised development’ it is stated that a 14 day notice has to be served before taking entry. At a minimum the NFU will want to see a 28 day notice being served before entry is taken on to land on a temporary basis. Experience form other schemes is showing that a 14 day notice is not adequate. 8. Balance Ponds 8.1 The NFU would like information to be provided to explain why the size and location of balance ponds are required and where these are to be located. Further relocation next to field boundaries would help minimise the impact on the farmland in question. The NFU would like to see further negotiations with landowners on balance ponds and refinement as design is developed. 9.0 Waste and Spoil 9.1 The NFU would like information to be provided to explain how waste and spoil is to be treated. The response to the NFU after the first consultation does not clarify where waste and spoil is to be used within the construction. It just states that soils will be delivered back to the respective locations from the storage zones. It will not be possible to return soil back to respective soil locations without changing the surface level and agricultural classification 10. Private Water Supply 10.1 There is no information in the FIEMP as to how private water supplies will be treated if affected on a temporary or permanent basis. The main works contractors should have to provide an alternative supply if a private supply is contaminated, cut off or the supply is affected in anyway during the construction of the road. The NFU has specific wording that it would like to see agreed and included in the FIEMP to guarantee that farms will have a temporary and/or a permanent water supply. 11.0 Field Drainage 11.1 Land drainage is always one of the main issues which landowners and agricultural tenants are concerned about when land is taken for construction purposes of a major road. Further to raising issues in a response to the consultations in regard to field drainage HE responded that the Drainage Strategy report covers operational drainage and that the FIEMP describes how construction drainage will be dealt with. The NFU is disappointed that HE has not addressed agricultural field drainage that will be severely affected by the construction works. This is particularly important where land will be returned to agricultural use. 11.2 The NFU has specific wording that it would like to see agreed and included in the FIEMP to guarantee that land drainage will be fully reinstated. 12. Soils 12.1. The NFU is pleased to see that there is a detailed section on Soil Handling and Management at Appendix E of the FIEMP which covers soil preparation, sub and top soil stripping, controls during construction, soil storage and restoration. The NFU would like to see further detail included to cover a pre-construction soil survey which will form the basis of a soil statement to be included within a record of condition. 12.2. Further the NFU would like to see wording agreed to cover soil aftercare which will be linked back to the soil statement and condition of the soil before the construction works started. 13. Dust 13.1 It is noted that within the FIEMP that dust will be controlled during construction, but clarification is needed on how dust will be controlled during construction to protect arable crops. The project will impact a vast area of arable crops that are grown in this area, quality of the crop is paramount. NFU would like to see details specific to dust control for agricultural crops. 14. Irrigation Systems 14.1. The NFU has not been able to find any information in the FIEMP as to how the effect of construction can be minimised on irrigation systems. The NFU has specific wording that it would like to see agreed and included in the FIEMP to guarantee that irrigation systems are maintained. 15. Agricultural Liaison officer 15.1 Liaison with landowners, tenants and agents is essential but there is only mention of a Community Relations Manager within the FIEMP. This is not adequate and the NFU would like to see that the main works contractors will have to employ an agricultural liaison officer to carry out liaison with landowners. The NFU has specific wording that it would like to see agreed and included in the FIEMP which covers the roles which need to be undertaken by the ALO. 16. Agricultural Use of the A428 16.1 The NFU requested confirmation that the proposed A428 will remain for the use of all traffic including agricultural vehicles. HE has confirmed that the new dual carriageway will be designated an all-purpose trunk road. The NFU would like to see this stated in the DCO. 17.0 Request to Attend Hearings and make Representations 17.1 The NFU wishes to request to make oral representations at the issue specific, draft DCO and compulsory acquisition hearings which may be held if necessary. The NFU will be working closely with the agents that represent the NFU members affected. Louise Staples Senior Rural Surveyor