Legal challenge to Golf Course Plans started by Friends of Basildon Golf Course (January 2008) Andrew Rosindell MP asks questions about the use of waste on Golf Courses in the House of Commons (March 2008) e-petition started to the Prime Minister (April 2008) please sign (details below)



The photograph shows landfill that has been used to 'improve' one part of Risebridge Golf Course, Romford; other photographs of Risebridge, and similar work at Delapre Golf Course, Northampton, appear elsewhere on this website (see, for example, 'bunding and mounding')

FRIENDS OF BASILDON GOLF COURSE PRESS RELEASE 15 JANUARY 2008

Basildon Residents start legal challenge to Golf Course plans

On 20th January 2008, Tilbrook’s, solicitors acting for ‘Friends of Basildon Golf Course’, residents living close to Basildon Golf Course in Essex, issued Judicial Review proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London. The remedy sought is to quash the grant of planning permission 07/00375/FULL by Basildon District Council which allows 120,000 cubic metres of inert material to be used as the first phase of ‘improvements’ on the golf course.

Classified as green belt land and within a mile of the town centre, the former farmland was professionally designed as a golf course in 1967 and is well-regarded among golfers. The land forms part of the Thames Terrace Ridge stretching from Vange to Langdon Hills which is treasured by conservationists because of its natural beauty and diverse wildlife.

Plans are for inert material 6 metres (20 feet) deep to be used to construct a driving range in an area roughly 300 metres by 200 metres; as a result, some nearby residents will be faced by a wall of earth within 22 metres of the end of the gardens. Together with subsequent work it is planned that 312,000 cubic metres of material will be used in total.

John Toplis, Secretary of Friends of Basildon Golf Course, said that he had researched the activities of the developer, Jack Barker Golf, in other parts of the Country and found that planning permission for ‘improvements’ at several other golf courses had been refused. For example, in August 2007, Staffordshire County Council as the waste authority objected to the use of 150,000 cubic metres of inert material for improving Tamworth Golf Course because the quantities ‘are of a scale very similar to that of a very large waste disposal operation’. Several years earlier the same County Council challenged the amount of inert material to be used at Keele Golf course and got it reduced from 30,000 cubic metres to 15,000 cubic metres.

Further, where schemes have gone ahead there have been reports of flooding and ecological damage – for example at Delapre in Northamptonshire a 5,000 square metre stagnant pond of water appeared

‘Here in Basildon,’ Mr Toplis said, ‘the District Council took the decision to approve this scheme without involving Essex Council Council, the waste authority. They went ahead in spite of concerns and objections from organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural Essex and Basildon Natural History Society.’
Lead campaigner and Chairman of the Friends of Basildon Golf Course, local resident Mick Toomer, said: ‘This is nothing more than a landfill operation thinly disguised as golf course improvements. If it goes ahead the dust will pose a serious health risk to local residents many of whom are elderly and already have respiratory problems. Worst still those who voted to inflict this on such a vulnerable community are Basildon District Council Councillors, the very people who should be working to protect them.’
He added:
‘Nobody, let alone people on pensions, should have to go to court to protect themselves from their own council. We have been forced into this, and have already raised more than £14,000 towards the legal battle’.
For further information contact
Mick Toomer: 01268 282317
John Toplis: 01268 524053
Geoff Williams (Ward Councillor): 01268 415348
Robin Tilbrook (Solicitor) 01277 896000


BACKGROUND TO THE JUDICIAL REVIEW PROCEEDINGS

The following was written following a supporter's meeting in November 2007.

Since the Planning Application was approved on 11th September, an enormous amount of time and effort has been spend trying to persuade the Leader of Basildon District Council, Malcolm Buckley to review the approval given by the Development Control and Traffic Management Committee. However, there are no signs that he or other key members of Basildon District Council (the ‘Cabinet’) are prepared to do this.

So while it is important to continue with our efforts to persuade, we came to the view that the the only sure way of getting Basildon Council to reconsider their decision would be through a legal process called Judicial Review. The steps are as follows. First, we have to raise sufficient money (£12,000) to meet the cost of legal representation and possible legal costs; this has now been done. Second, we needed to appoint a solicitor (Tilbrook's) and in turn a barrister (Jeremy Pike). Third, our legal team will need to persuade a High Court Judge sitting in the Administrative Court that there is a case for reviewing this decision – this is called an Application for a Judicial Review. Fourth, if that application is successful, there is the Judicial Review itself. Finally, if we are successful, Basildon District Council will be required by law to re-consider their decision.

So what are the implications of all this, and what progress have we made? When reading this, please remember that our ‘opponents’ can access it too. We make every effort to ensure that the information here (and elsewhere) is correct, but we hope that you will understand if there are a few details that are not made public.

First, we needed to form ourselves into an organization. This now been done – we are now ‘Friends of Basildon Golf Course’. At present this is a Community Organisation but in time (and we have been told it will take several months) we plan to form ourselves into a Charity of the same name.

Next we needed to open a Bank Account so that we can take proper care of money raised. This has now been done in the name of 'Friends of Basildon Golf Course'. Our account is with NatWest in Basildon. We would prefer to know the source of financial donations so that we can thank people and let them know what progress we are making. Also, if we become a Charity, we may be able to claim tax refunds on donations made by those who pay tax.

Third we needed to continue our fundraising efforts. Some significant early donations meant that, through the Environmental Law Foundation, we were able to ask a solicitor and subsequently a barrister to look at the information that we have drawn together about our case; their initial reactions were that we have a good chance of success

Fourth, we needed to get a number of individuals affected by the decision to agree to be named in the legal action; this is because ‘Friends of Basildon Golf Course’ did not exist at the time that Planning Permission was given. Being named does put people at some financial risk if , for example, there are unexpected costs; however, I am pleased to confirm that strength of feeling about this issue is such that 46 people said that they are willing to be named. We intend to go into these proceedings full-funded and with all normal risks covered, but we have to accept the possibility of unexpected costs which are unlikely to exceed £3,000 (see the next paragraphs). By having 46 (and ideally more) names any unexpected costs will be divided equally between us, so no individual will be asked to find a large sum of money. This large-scale support was a really important step forward and, without it, our legal efforts would have come to a halt. Additional names would be very welcome since they dilute any risk still further; equally, if the circumstances of a named person change and they need to withdraw from the action, any liability will be limited to their share of the (unexpected) liability at the point at which they withdrew. Note too that it is not possible for further people to join us once any legal action has started.

What lies ahead?

We need to continue to raise more money – in case of unexpected costs during the application, and for the Review itself.

Initially we have been told that it would be prudent to be able raise our funds to £15,000 in case there are any unexpected costs. This is why we want to have as many people as possible agree to having their names on the action; for example if costs were to be £3,000 more than expected, and we have 30 names on the action, the cost per person would be £100 each. Names are not required to put additional money 'up front' - we are assured by our experienced solicitor that it will only be required in exceptional circumstances.

(Note that if we are successful, we aim to return as much donated money as possible to those who donated it on a pro-rata basis. This means that if someone donates £100 and only 20% of money raised is actually used in legal fees and other expenses, £80 will be returned to them at the end of this campaign)

If we win our case at the Application Stage it will mean that the Judge considers that our views have some merit; if that happens it is just possible that Basildon District Council may re-consider their position and agree to reviewing the Planning Application without the full Judicial Review taking place; if not we will then need to proceed to that next stage. By that time, most of the preparatory work on our case will have been done by our legal team and we hope that the money already raised by then will see us through; further we understand that it may be possible to arrange insurance against costs being awarded against us.

What else?

Remember that the legal action that we are starting is necessary because we have not been able to persuade Councillors to reconsider their decision. If we win our case they will be ordered to do so the Court, but they still could confirm their decision. So we must keep the pressure up to get them to change their minds. It is clear that Council Leader Malcolm Buckley is not going to change his mind without others persuading him so we need to direct our attention to the other Councillors in the ‘ruling’ Conservative Party, particularly those who voted for the Planning Application (Councillors S Buckley, A Blake, Buckenham and Tomlin) We understand that Councillors A Blake and Tomlin come to the end of their time as Ward Councillors in May 2008 and if they are to continue they will need to be re-elected. However it is also possible that other Conservative Councillors might take their place on the Development Control Committee, so we need to keep the pressure up on all local Conservative Councillors. In addition, some may feel that it is worth approaching Conservatives at a County or National level – the party with the green tree as its logo (Remember that in recent correspondence a senior Council Officer has told me that she does not know how many trees will be cut down in phase 1 !!)

Two final points. First, in spite of the previous paragraph, Friends of Basildon Golf Course is not a political organisation. Our sole aim is to stop the importation of vast quantities of ‘inert material’ onto the Golf Course with the consequential dangers to health, damage to wildlife and the loss of hundreds of trees. Basildon District Council is controlled by the Conservative Party and it is that party and its officers at a local level that we need to persuade.

Second, these notes are getting long and complex. The best way of explaining the reasons for our objections and what we are doing about it is for one of us to come and meet with you and your friends and neighbours. Indeed there is a further reason for suggesting group meetings - to date only around half our supporters are on email, so keeping neighbours informed and up to date is a key part of how you can help us.

In conclusion.

Please support us financially. If every household directly affected were to contribute £100 (and many now have)we would meet our initial financial targets; remember that if we are successful, unused money will be returned on a pro-rata basis.

Second, we need to keep the pressure up and get the minds of Conservative Councillors changed. Even if we are successful in our legal challenge, it only means that the Council has to reconsider its position. We do not want them to reach the same decision a second time.

Finally, please play your part in keeping others informed; not everyone has access to email!! We would be pleased to come and meet small local groups of friends and neighbours to explain what we are doing, to answer questions, and to listen to any ideas that you have about how we can win. And if through group meetings or in other ways you can recruit other people willing to be named on the action, we will be reducing the risk to each individual even further.

If the work that is proposed by Jack Barker Golf goes ahead we will not be able to get 120,000 cubic meters of inert landfill removed or hundreds of semi-mature cut and burnt trees restored. And that is only Phase 1 of what Jack Barker plans to do. Please join us in fighting this terrible decision all the way!!

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Articles in the Press.

Our local news paper is the Echo, who have carried numerous articles about our campaign. See, for example:
www.echo-news.co.uk/display.var.1968271.0.fighting_fund_to_block_golf_course_plan.php

Private Eye: In the 9th November edition of Private Eye Basildon golf Course features in a story called 'Basildon Bund' (page 9). The story ends

' Elsewhere, councillors seem able to recognise a mountain of rubbish when they see one. But not apparently in Essex.'

Private Eye has few resources but bravely goes where others do not. Please support them by buying your own copy (£1.50)

Sunday Express: Today's Sunday Express (11 November) carries a story 'Golf Course Scam to Dump Rubbish' (Page 13). It features several notorious sites including one at Theydon Bois

'Three million tons (of rubbish) have been dumped on what was meant to be a golf course at Theydon Bois, Essex in the past five years.

Last week the company behind the project finally admitted that it no longer plans to create a course there.

The 160 acre site is now nine feet high with rubbish. Some 300 lorries a day have dumped rubbish there.'

'Last night the Head of the Environment Agency called on the Courts to help to crack down on the rogue firms causing catastrophic damage to the countryside by imposing tougher sentences for dumping waste in beauty spots.'

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Mick Toomer on Channel 5 news !
Channel 5 news have a 'slot' near the end of their programmes where people can broadcast their own news item. Mick's had a two-minute slot at the end of November!
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On Friday 11th January a Fundraising Evening at Kingswood Junior School raised over £3,000, a tremendous success. Our thanks to those who donated items for auction including their own time and skills, the use of a holiday chalet for a week etc
Particular thanks to Mick and Jan Toomer for the huge amount of work that they put into organising and running the event

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Ian James is the leader of the protest group at Risebridge, Romford, (London Borough of Havering) and has persuaded his local MP Andrew Rosindell, to take an interest in what has happened there. Andrew is aware of the support that our MP Angela E. Smith has given us in Basildon, and they have agreed to approach the matter on a cross-party basis. (Angela is restricted in what she can do in public because of her role as the Prime Minister's Personal Private Secretary)

Andrew has asked a question in the House of Commons and has put down an Early Day Motion. He is being interviewed by BBC London Television News on Wednesday 26th March 2008.

From Hansard, 13th March, 2008

Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Use of Waste

1. Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con): What his policy is on the use of waste as part of the landscaping of new developments; and if he will make a statement. [193649]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Joan Ruddock): The Government encourage the reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery of waste wherever possible. As a way of encouraging recovery, suitable waste can be used in landscaping developments under exemptions from waste management licensing, administered by the Environment Agency.

Andrew Rosindell: I thank the Minister for her reply, but has she had an opportunity to examine the situation at the Risebridge golf course in my constituency, where hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste have been dumped under the guise of landfill, to the great benefit of the company running the golf course? Will she come to see the destruction that that is causing to the local environment, and take immediate action to prevent this scam from happening elsewhere in the country? Basildon is another example of where it is now happening. Will the Government take immediate action to resolve that devastation of the environment?

13 Mar 2008 : Column 392

Joan Ruddock: I have indeed taken the trouble to examine the case that the hon. Gentleman raises, as well as that raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Angela E. Smith) in respect of the Basildon golf course. The Environment Agency has permitted the use of the material on the site, but having heard the hon. Gentleman’s case, I have drawn the issue further to the attention of the agency. It tells me that it visited on 28 February, and will visit again on 20 March. Because of the concerns that he and other Members have raised, a review of exemptions from permitting will take place. A consultation will be carried out this summer, and the revised exemptions could be introduced at the earliest in October next year. That will be done, and we are concerned. Where waste can be used in low-risk operations, that should be done for recovery. Where there are possible scams, however, permitting will be needed. That will be the subject of the consultation.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the biggest new developments in the history of our country is the Olympic site? A great opportunity exists to reuse waste for other purposes on that site. Will she talk to the Olympic Delivery Authority, because the word is out that sustainable contracts, using waste transferred by water and rail, are being excluded on the basis of cost, and it is just going for the cheapest option? Will she talk to her colleagues urgently?

Joan Ruddock: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who I know takes a great interest in the subject of waste. As I indicated, the Government’s policy is that we should make use of waste, but only in sustainable ways; that is the crux of the matter. We will introduce new regulations in respect of construction sites, and it is important that waste from construction sites be dealt with better than it has been in the past, when many problems occurred. I undertake to talk to my colleagues, and to try to ensure as much recovery and reuse of waste as possible. Waste can be a resource, provided that it is dealt with sustainably.



Early Day Motion: EDM 1237

RISEBRIDGE GOLF COURSE
19.03.2008


Rosindell, Andrew

That this House expresses its dismay at the developments that have taken place at Risebridge Golf Course in Romford where, under the guise of landscaping improvements, developers have been granted permission to deposit thousands of cubic metres worth of landfill waste onto Green Belt land; is concerned that this practice is now becoming a nationwide problem and calls on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency to investigate fully this environmental disaster and similar instances of its kind; urges the Government to withdraw waste licences pending an inquiry into the activities of these developers; and recommends that the exemption of landfill tax for the improvement of golf courses, which encourages these highly profitable activities, be suspended until all matters relating to this issue are thoroughly examined and investigated.

The motion, and the MPs supporting it, can be seen at

edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=35464&SESSION=891

On April 1st 2008 our petition to the Prime Minister was approved. Here are the details:

Your petition has been approved by the Number 10 web team, and
is now available on the Number 10 website at the following
address:

petitions.pm.gov.uk/landfill-scams/

Your petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to support the
objectives of Early Day Motion 1237 expressing dismay at
developments at many golf courses nationally

Under the guise of landscaping improvements, some developers
have been granted permission to deposit hundreds of thousands
of cubic metres of landfill waste onto Green Belt land.
Transportation of the waste results in noise and congestion
while its use in remodelling destroys fauna and flora and
creates dust and particulates harmful to nearby residents. We
call on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
and the Environment Agency to investigate fully these
nationwide environmental disasters, some of which we have
researched in detail. We also urge the Government to withdraw
waste licences pending an inquiry into the activities of these
developers and that the exemption of landfill tax for the
improvement of golf courses, which encourages these highly
profitable activities, be suspended until all matters relating
to this issue are thoroughly examined and investigated.

Thanks for submitting your petition.

-- the ePetitions team

Please 'sign' the petition by following the procedure explained on the Prime Minister's website - you will need to have an email address in order to do this. If you have not got an e-email address, ask a relative of friend to set one up for you. They are free and you do not need to own a computer to have one.
Please tell all your relatives, friends etc about our campaign and about this website, and ask them to sign the petition too.

BRIEF UPDATE 15TH APRIL 2008.
(The following note has been sent out by email and we hope to distribute 'hard copies' too: if you are on our mailing list and have not received a copy, please check your email details with us)

Most of you will have heard that our application for a Judicial Review was approved last week by High Court Judge Sir Andrew Collins who is the lead judge in the Administrative Division of the Queens Bench Division of the High Court. The application was approved on the basis of written submissions from our barrister and from the barrister representing Basildon District Council.

Although this is the best possible result from our point of view, we cannot afford to relax. We need your continued support in the following ways.

• Tuesday 22 April 2008, 7.30 pm: update meeting for supporters at Kingswood Junior School.

30th April 2008



BASILDON golf club's pavilion was left devasted in a suspected arson attack.

Firefighters were called to the blaze in the single storey pavilion, which was used as a social club and bar, at 2.30am this morning (Wed).

Four fire crews fought the flames before the fire was finally put out two hours later.

No-one was injured.

The clubhouse was left a charred shell.

Nigel Dilley, station commander for Basildon Fire Station, said: "The fire spread throughout the building which was devasted, completely destroyed.
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"We are relieved we managed to stop the flames spreading, as there were houses nearby."

The fire is being treated as suspicious and a police and fire service investigation has been launched.
Owners Jack Barker Ltd has controversially been given planning permission to redesign the contours of the course using thousands of tonnes of soil, rubble and other debris. Ron Maydon, managing director of Jack Barker Ltd, said: "That building was due to be demolished in the not too distant future. It has not been used for some time. "I am relieved that the fire didn't spread to the existing clubhouse."

www.echo-news.co.uk/display.var.2235340.0.0.php

• Saturday 10th May, 7.00 pm: fundraising evening at Kingswood Junior School. It will be an ‘Evening Of Trivia’; quiz night, raffle, auction, etc. For tickets ring Mick Toomer on 01268 282317. Items for the raffle or pledges that we can auction should be dropped off at 10 Ravensdale. If you can’t attend but still wish to support the event, raffle tickets are available now at the same address.

• Tuesday 6th May 2008; this is the deadline for submissions about the ‘claimed footpath’ at the rear of Curlew Crescent, Ravensdale, Swallowdale etc to be received by County Hall; if you have used this footpath please support us by completing a form - copies are available from Jan Rippon, George Parker, Marj Fraser or John Toplis. Support will be particularly welcome from those who have used the path more than 20 years ago and those who can provide any photographic evidence of having used the path.

• Have you ‘signed’ the petition to the Prime Minister, and have you got family and friends to do the same? Use this link to find the website petitions.pm.gov.uk/landfill-scams/. Note that you will need your own email address to do this. They are available free of charge from hotmail or google even if you don’t have a computer.

• Finally, do you know a Member of Parliament anywhere in the UK or do you have friends that do? Ideally we would like to see more MPs supporting the Early Day Motion put down by Andrew Rosindell, the Member of Parliament for Romford. Use this link to see the names of Members of Parliament who have supported Andrew so far edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=35464&SESSION=891

Mick Toomer, Chairman. 01268 282317
John Toplis, Secretary. 01268 524053

Ps Are you able to help by copying this note and distributing it to others in your area who may not receive it by e-mail? Please let us know if you can help in this way

Further Updates

Basildon MP Angela Smith spoke about Basildon Golf Course in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons which started at 18.00 on Thursday 24th April. (see Basildon Golf Course in Parliament)

24th June 2008. the following article appeared in the Echo Newspaper

Can people power prevail in the battle of Barn Hall?
By Jon Austin

PEOPLE power hopes to win through this week as a four-day showdown over plans to build on a wildlife haven starts today.

Campaigners against proposals to turn Barn Hall recreation area into a housing estate will battle Gleeson Homes during the public inquiry in the Basildon Centre.

Yesterday, members of Wickford North Green Action Group joined Billericay and District MP John Baron to stage a demonstration outside the offices of the Department of Communities and Local Government, in Westminster.

A petition of 3,500 names was presented to Hazel Blears, Communities Minister, who will have the final say over the plans to build about 200 homes following the inquiry. Campaign leader Peter Boynes, of Station Avenue, Wickford, said: "If this Government really means what it says when it talks of listening to local people, there can be only one outcome - no building on Barn Hall and preservation of this open, green countryside.

Mr Baron added: "Local democracy must prevail. Residents, local councillors and I are united in our wish to preserve this countryside for the benefit of local people.

"Let us hope the Government listens. The petition clearly illustrates the strength of local opinion, which should override the wishes of politicians and bureaucrats sitting in London." A letter from Mr Baron to the minister read: "Preservation would also protect the environment and safeguard this haven for wildlife."
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Barn Hall is currently land set aside for future housing provision if Basildon Council fails to meet Government housing targets.

But the council hopes to designate it as green belt.

Gleeson launched an appeal after the council rejected its planning application for the estate last year. The council will also defend that decision during the inquiry.

Council leader Malcolm Buckley said: "Our intention is quite clear.

"We intend to return the land at Barn Hall to green belt status, so it can be protected for future generations.

"We have identified enough land for housing without the need to develop green areas."

www.echo-news.co.uk/search/display.var.2359232.0.can_people_power_prevail_in_the_battle_of_barn_hall.php

WE wish the greenwickford north campaigners well. Do visit their website at www.greenwickfordnorth.org.uk. We just wish that Council Leader Malcolm Buckely would use the same words to support us too (Basildon Golf Course is already green belt land). Could the obvious inconsistency in his thinking be related to the fact that both he and is wife are Ward Councillors for Wickford Castledon?

JUDICIAL REVIEW UPDATE: The review took place on Friday 7th November.

In February 2009 we found that the Judge had refused our claim, but we sought permission to appeal and that was granted on one point.
We then learned that information had been witheld from the Court (and ourselves) by Basildon Distrct Council, and sought leave to appeal on all the original grounds.
Permission to appeal on all grounds was granted. The hearing was originally scheduled for April 2010 but was put back by the Court because of lack of court time. New dates of 27 and 28 July were aranged, but these have alse been cancelled because of lack of court time.
The Court has now reuested information about our availability after 10th October 2010.



Basildon Golf Course, November 2007. Let's keep the lungs and arteries of Basildon open!