It has become clear that we are not alone. On this page we are attempting to list other Golf Course Developments involving significant amounts of landfill. On subsequent pages there are 'blogs' from those who have led protests at Risebridge and Theydon Bois. If you know of any similar developments please send details using the 'contact us' facility. Ideally we would like a 'link' to an article about the development (or proposed development) the name of the protest leader and the name of the local MP if s/he has supported the protest. Links to Published articles about the wider implications will be welcome too as will thoughts from others about the implications for legislation etc.



We have made repeated reference to Risebridge Golf Course, London Borough of Havering, for several reasons. First, the work at Risebridge has been carried out by the same developer, Jack Barker Golf. Second, the earthworks there are similar in size to some of the earthworks proposed for Basildon (up to 6 metres (20 feet) high). Third, Risebridge is relatively close to Basildon (about 12 miles away) so it has been easy to take photographs there and meet the leader of the protest group that was formed there. (Ian James, their leader, has a blog on the next page).

That said, there are differences in the scale of what is proposed. Risebridge is 145,000 cubic metres; Phase 1 at Basildon is 120,000 cubic metres, while phase 2 is said to be 192,000 cubic metres.

We have also referred to Delapre Golf Course, Northampton. Again, the same developer etc, but works at Delapre involved less inert landfill than either Risebridge or Basildon.

Other Course Developments that have involved or are involving significant amounts of landfill, but which involve developers other than Jack Barker Golf are:

- Blakes Golf, North Weald (formerly Ongar Park Golf)
www2.newsquest.co.uk/local_london/west_essex/news/NEWS2.html

- Parsonage Golf, Blunts Farm, Theydon Bois

Both sites have been the subject of considerable local opposition not only because of the plans but also the subsequent failure of the developers to keep to the conditions under which planning approval was given. See, for example

www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/eppingforest/eppingforestnews/display.var.682747.0.investigating_the_blunts_farm_fiasco.php

Protests were led by Jacqueline Dodman, Theydon Bois and Abridge Action Group (TBAAG); I am grateful for Jacqueline's help with information for this page, and Jacqueline's blog is on the last page of this website; Eleanor Laing is the local Member of Parliament.

On 21st February 2008, I received the following 'update' from Jacqueline about events at Parsonage Golf/Blunts Farm

Blunts Farm is owned by Blunts Farm Estates limited; the people behind it are many and the largest holding company is the Aitch Group.
We have no idea what Aitch Group have planned for both the Old Foresters site, behind Forest Drive and Blunts Farm. They have said that due to the 'global credit crunch' they no longer wish to develop a golf course. They have approached West Ham United PLC, West Ham have confirmed to TBAG that the 'decontamination' of the land would be a financial consideration before proceeding further with an application for a football academy.

The following is a direct quote from the Planning Department at Epping Forest District Council (EFDC);

'If a land use is unprofitable for a ten year period the chances are
that a business will cease, and that either the owner of that business,
or some other entrepreneur, will consider what else can be undertaken
at the site or in the buildings; indeed they will probably not run
unprofitably for as long as ten years.

Nationally, there have been quite a number of golf courses, probably
constructed using traditional techniques, where the golf club has not
been profitable; a not uncommon pressure has then been for hotels to be
added to the club house complex, or for the club house to be used for
many" non golf" events.

I am not aware of a case where someone has argued that the complete
rural location could be redeveloped. Within Epping Forest District such
cases will be in the Metropolitan Green Belt where protection policies
apply. Even though some land in the Green Belt may be classified as
brown field under present Government definitions of that term, at the
moment that does not overcome Green Belt policy. If the Government
change the national definitions of brown field or the policy position on green belt then a different answer might arise.'

They now have 2 years to comply with the enforcement notices issued by EFDC and fill the holes with an agreed methodology - there are several cavernous water filled pits on site. Although anyone deviating from the footpaths would be tresspassing there is evidence that young people have swam in the pits. Every spring we warn everyone but this will now be our third spring worrying about local kids - there is youtube footage of kids swimming in the pits.

uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qRDq8nwSZIU

In contrast, Blakes Golf does operate as a Golf Course and appears on the website of CGA Golf (see below)

Please note that the Theydon Bois Action Group set up their own website at

www.theydonbois-actiongroup.co.uk/


Also in the Epping Forest District Council Area:
- Merlin Way EPF/1093/06
- Rayley Lane EPF/0308/07 (landfill already imported under EPF/1996/04)

www2.newsquest.co.uk/local_london/west_essex/news/NEWS2.html

Chadwell Heath, Romford. Next to Warren School, South of A12
Proposal from CGA golf for a course involving 685,430 cubic metres of landfill submitted to the London Borough of Havering, February 2008.
This development is 4 times bigger than the development at Risebridge, and twice as big as the total development planned for Basildon; at Risebridge the developer has said that he will be paid £300 per lorry load; with 15 cubic metres in eash large tipper lorry this means that the project at Chadwell Heath could be worth £13, 708,599.99 according to my calculator.

Below is a link to the plans for Chadwell Heath. It is difficult for most people to understand them because the before and after contours are not clear. However, it appears that in places the land may rise between 4 and 6 metres. Numerically these differences appear small, but the famous London Transport Double-Decker Routemaster Bus is 4.4 metres high, while the guttering to catch the rainwater from the roof of a two-storey house is approximately 6 metres high.

www.cga-golf.com/images/A1-MasterPlan-250.02.PDF

Other golf courses which are or have been involved with developments involving landfill follow: among them are a number where planning permissions/regulations have been breached and prosecution threatened.

- Chingford Golf Range, Waltham Way, Chingford
www.walthamforestguardian.co.uk/search/display.var.452971.0.residents_want_rubble_removed.php
Member of Parliament: Ian Duncan Smith

- Great Hadham Golf and Country Club, Hertfordshire

- Hillsborough Golf course, Sheffield
www.thestar.co.uk/features/Toxic-waste-fears-at-Hillsborough.3734861.jp


- Lords Golf Course (formerly Hanover Golf) Rayleigh Essex
archive.brentwoodweeklynews.co.uk/2007/3/15/246913.html

- Lower Whitelaugh Farm, Brokenstones Road, Livesey, Blackburn
Report of the local government ombudsman:
www.blackburn.gov.uk/agenda/executive_board_documents/030416/html/ombudsman_report_brief.htm
The sequel
archive.leighjournal.co.uk/2002/8/27/599356.html

- Oast Park Golf Course, Kent: see section 7 (Reports) on the following link
https://mail.google.com/mail/?zx=1qqv2nkb46zv8&shva=1#inbox/1183e16d88dba708


The following list was included in a submission by the Guardian Newspaper to the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs in 2000

- Hincksey Heights, Oxfordshire

— Kilworth Springs, Leicestershire

— Lofthouse Hill, Wakefield

— Woodhall Hills, Leeds

— Bootle, Sefton

— Mollington, Cheshire

— Capenhurst, Cheshire

— Calverley Lane, Leeds

— Dick Lane, Leeds

— Hulme Walfield, Cheshire

— Municipal Course (now privatised), Sunderland

— Hankerlow, Crewe

— Waterstock, Oxfordshire

— Potters Crouch, St Albans, Hertfordshire

See
www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmselect/cmenvtra/903/903m77.htm

(note that the submission is lengthy and that the list of Golf courses is about two-thirds of the way into the submission; also in the submission are accounts of events at Brickett Wood; because of the length of this account it is reproduced at the end of the page

Here are some articles about landfill on Golf Courses:

www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2000/apr/06/waste.uknews

This is an old but very good article: an extract follows:

Information gathered in Cheshire has revealed three golf courses - at Mollington, Capenhurst and Hankerlow - where illegal dumping has taken place. At Hankerlow 500,000 cubic metres of waste were dumped when planning permission was given for only 80,000 cubic metres.

Other golf courses where waste was dumped include the former municipal course in Sunderland; Hinksey Heights near Oxford and Waterstock in Oxfordshire. Altogether 30 golf courses are under investigation for illegal dumping.

A similar picture emerges of illegal dumping on farms. In Cornwall, 120 suspected illegal sites are under environment agency investigation. In Hertfordshire, at Valley View farm, near South Oxhey the agency is planning to prosecute 240 hauliers after they discovered hospital and household waste had been dumped to a height of 40 feet. The county council tried to stop the dumping by blocking an access road - but the lorries smashed though a barrier to continue their work.

Enforcement is a big problem. Hertfordshire, which has pursued two illegal dumpers - at Bricket Wood, near St Albans and Valley View farm - says the penalties are too low to be effective. When enforcement orders are made they are often ignored until expensive court procedures have been exhaustively followed. On conviction, magistrates can fine people up to £20,000, but most fines are about £1,000, which is no deterrent.

Michael Meacher, the environment minister, was challenged on the television programme Dispatches to act on the problem - particularly the environment agency's inability to police dumps because of a lack of cash.

"Those who have the advantage of the exemption [from using regulated sites] certainly ought to pay the costs of the agency to ensure that a sufficient sample of sites can be properly inspected. That is one of the changes that we will look at very carefully," he said.

No moves are in hand to increase fines or use to customs and excise powers to pounce on firms that evade landfill tax.

Mr Jones from Biffa said: "There should be tougher fines for illegal dumpers. If firms have to lose a huge amount of their turnover for breaching the law, that would be a real deterrent to stop this - £1,000 fines mean nothing."

The article ended with a note that a Televison Programme would be screened: Dispatches: Dirty Money, Channel 4, 9pm tonight

Other articles:

commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/michael_darlow/2007/03/green_belt_under_threat_the_la.html

www.golfecology.co.uk/articles/landfill.html

www.golfinlondon.co.uk/my-humps-my-humps-my-lovely-landfill-humps/


And here are some personal thoughts about the wider issues

It seems to me that three underlying issues might be addressed.

First, the traditional role of Local Authorities is to be an impartial adjudicator between individual citizens and developers. However, with Councils taking a stake in many developments their impartiality is being compromised and there is no longer an independent view. It is particularly unfair that developers can appeal to inspectors but that individual citizens cannot. Might it be possible for Inspectors to be involved under some circumstances where there are disputes between individuals resisting a development and their council - eg when, as in our case, we have expert advice that there have been breaches of planning regulations.

Second, there is the Environmental Waste Exemption Legislation where section 19a allows the importation of waste for recreational facilities. This is in effect a subsidy for golf courses, meaning that those who develop using landfill will have a commercial advantage over those that do not. It is a developers dreams and a nightmare for the environmentalists. It is creating a situation where golf courses must develop using landfill to survive. For some time Jacqueline Dodman (see TBAAG above)has been campaigning for that loophole to be closed and I fully support her. (Incidentally, the country now grows just 60% of its food, an all-time low; when oil prices rise and we have to be self-sufficient again, we will bitterly regret filling potentail farmland with building rubble?)

Third, I understand that the national need to meet housing targets means that homes continue to be built on land that may be vulnerable to flooding. Why isn't the landfill diverted to such sites? There is a clause in the Essex Waste Regulations which says that landfill should be moved a minimum distance ........the so-called proximity principle: it is reasonable to apply this to normal domestic and other waste, but surely inert waste ought to be moved to where it is most required for flood defences etc - across counties if required.


Finally, a detailed account of events at Brickett Wood Golf Club at St. Albans, reproduced from the submission from the Guardian Newspaper (above) Events took place in the late 1990's so the amounts of money involved seem small when compared with today.

LANDFILL TAX EVASION

Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire

Bricket Wood "Golf Course" is a 23.5 hectare site at the junction of the M25, A405 and Lye Lane in Hertfordshire. The site is within the Green Belt.

The use of this site has led to evasion of Landfill Tax and environmental degradation. The history of the site, far from being unique, appears to mirror similar "developments" elsewhere in the UK and highlights the inability of statutory bodies and local government—Environment Agency, HM Customs & Excise, local planning authorities and Environmental Health Officers—to act in a co-ordinated manner. It further highlights the apparent refusal of the Courts to take effective action in support of a planning authority, Hertfordshire County Council, despite the commitment of substantial resources and energy to prevent illegal activity.

In February 1995 the owners of the site, Burston Nurseries Ltd, obtained planning permission (on appeal) for a nine-hole golf course. This was a District Council responsibility.

Planning permission (on a second appeal) had been granted for the use of 41,250 cubic metres of inert waste for bunding to shield the golf course from the M25 in January 1994. This was a County Council responsibility.

The site was sold, for what is understood to be around £400,000, in 1997. The new owner, Intrasales Ltd, contracted Ironside Leisure Developments to carry out work on the site. Mr Harvey Gibson, an undischarged bankrupt[199] owns Ironside Leisure Developments.

Mr Michael Hancock, owner of Intrasales, and Mr Harvey Gibson work together. The co-operation between the two is shown by the fact that "Michael Hancock admitted in an affidavit dated 18 January 1999 that Intrasales have been receiving £20 per lorry load of waste."[200]

In October 1997 work commenced on the transfer of inert waste to the site. By January 1998 the Council was aware of excess waste being dumped and in June 1998 a survey identified 132,700 cubic metres as opposed to the 41,250 allowed under planning consent.

The level of illegal activity can be judged by the fact that in one hour on 12 November 1997 20 HGVs were observed entering the site.[201]

In July 1998 the County Council served two Enforcement Notices on Intrasales Ltd, Ironside Leisure Developments, and the mortgagee, NatWest Bank. Intrasales Ltd appealed and a public inquiry was held in January 1999. In March 1999 it was decided that all excess material must be removed from the site within six months. The amount of waste deposited at the site had risen to 223,000 cubic metres as of December 1998.

During the period from the serving of Enforcement Notices, despite the obtaining of a High Court Injunction by the County Council in September 1998, the import of waste to the site continued.

During observation of the site in September 1998, a person claiming to be the site owner threatened one of the investigators and told him "it would not be healthy for him to come back"[202]. On this day alone 70 lorry movements were noted between 7.30am and 4pm.[203]

The nature of some of the waste dumped can be identified from a report received by the County Council from a haulier that had been tipping at Bricket Wood.

"During all the time he had personally been tipping on the site (and he must have paid between £40,000 and £50,000 in all the time he had been tipping) he had noticed a considerable amount of household waste dumped on the site. He said that this had been tipped on the bund alongside the M25 at its highest point, and then buried to a depth of about 30 to 40 foot. He also said that he had seen two to three loads of asbestos sheeting tipped on the site."[204]

The County Council returned to the High Court in January 1999 and, following a number of adjournments, Harvey Gibson was found guilty of contempt of Court in March 1998. He received a sentence of 28 days, suspended for two years.

Ironside Leisure Developments went into liquidation. For two/three months no further waste was imported but the excess was not removed. Boreholes were dug in order to identify minerals for extraction.

Extraction of hoggin, sand and topsoil started in March 1999. The County Council served further Enforcement Notices to prevent this extraction in June 1999 on Mr Gibson, Intrasales Ltd and Ironside Haulage, the company that appears to have taken over the work of Ironside Leisure Developments.

Surveillance reports for periods between January and November 1999 expose extensive movement of waste on to the site and the export of minerals. Typical activity includes 56 vehicles on 5 February and 35 on 17 August with one tipper truck making 12 journeys. On 12 and 16 November minerals were extracted form the Bricket Wood site and deposited at the Royal Ordinance site at Waltham Abbey, Essex[205]. During the surveillance operation in November 1999, five vehicles were identified as depositing material at the Royal Ordinance site at Waltham Abbey.

The County Council returned to the High Court in October 1999 and despite Harvey Gibson's suspended sentence he was only fined £1,000 for further contempt of Court.

On 15 October 1999 St Albans District Council were informed by solicitors acting for Intrasales that "they intend to import approximately 200 loads of as dug topsoil" as "a previously employed contractor exported a substantial quantity of top soil from the site without our clients consent or approval" [206]

Within 10 days the Council were informed the soil was not available and in November Mr Hancock stated he was selling the site to Harvey Gibson for a nominal sum with the new owner being Millennium Home and Developments Ltd[207].

The County Council served further High Court Injunctions on Ironside Haulage, Intrasales, Messrs Gibson and Hancock on 20 and 21 December 1999. A High Court Hearing was held on 12 January 2000.

Mr Harvey Gibson claims he is losing £26,000 profit per week[208] as a result of the Injunctions preventing him from transferring topsoil from the Bricket Wood site to the Royal Ordinance site at Waltham Abbey. The overall profits from this blatant operation are estimated at well in excess of £1 million.

St Stephen Parish Council raised evasion of Landfill Tax by those tipping on the site as a concern in February 1998[209], Hertfordshire County Council has pursued Michael Hancock and Harvey Gibson with vigour for more than two years, injunctions have been served and ignored. The evasion of Landfill Tax, the environmental damage, and the disruption of a local community continues.

In a discussion with The Guardian, Planning and Enforcement Officers from Hertfordshire County Council welcomed our investigation and explained that further injunctions have been successfully served on Mr Hancock and Mr Gibson to require them to remove waste from the Brickett Wood site and negotiations are in hand to ensure compliance.

A statement to The Guardian, issued on behalf of Mr Gibson said,

"The material deposited on to the land was excavated earth and aggregate imported on to the site for construction purposes. As far as Mr Gibson is aware, the council did not carry out a survey on the land at the commencement of the development and therefore cannot be in a position to quantify the amount that was deposited."

While the The Guardian have taken particular interest in this matter, others have expressed their views too, as in the following article from the series 'Golf in London'

www.golfinlondon.co.uk/my-humps-my-humps-my-lovely-landfill-humps/