There were angry shouts from the public as a retrospective application for straw storage at the former RAF Fulbeck Airfield was approved by South Kesteven District Council’s development control committee on Tuesday.
Conditional permission was granted by SKDC for up 20,000 tonnes of straw to be stored at the airfield at any one time, in order for it to be used as biomass fuel at the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant.
Yet the surrounding parish councils have all strongly criticised the application, and more than 30 letters of objection have been submitted. These condemn in particular the straw-laden HGVs, which locals say have been travelling dangerously through Stragglethorpe in and out of the site for more than two years.
Jacqueline Simons, a resident on Stragglethorpe Lane, said: “It is a 90 degree bend and I have seen so many near collisions. The lorries have to mount the pavement and I’ve had to jump out of the way when out walking my dogs.”
These concerns had led the application to be deferred in February, so that SKDC could consult with Lincolnshire County Council highways. Their response was to request that as part of a section 106 order, the applicant contributes £15,000 towards footway improvements in Stragglethorpe, with options to be put before residents. Another contribution of £6,000 per annum is also asked for, to pay for drainage clearance on the A17 for the next 25 years.
SKDC planning committee member Councillor Rosemary Kaberry-Brown said: “It is totally unsafe to go through Stragglethorpe village with those vehicles. It beggars belief that LCC can say they can mount the pavement if necessary. ”
However, no accepted planning reasons were put forward to support Coun Kaberry-Brown’s proposal to refuse permission. “I think we are being badly let down by the planning system if we have to approve this application in the face of such opposition,” added Coun Judy Stevens. “It is totally ridiculous.”
A proposal to approve the plans was passed. It is subject to the section 106 agreement, and conditions which include limiting the site’s operation to a maximum of 20 vehicle movements per day, and securing any straw taken away with netting.