Here is all the information on actions being taken on the breach of planning conditions at the Marlbrook Tip.
The history of Marlbrook Tip
The land was approved for shooting grounds and gravel and mineral works in the early fifties, with the stacking of associated surplus soil.
A ready-mix concrete plant was allowed there in the sixties and it received permission to become a tip as well in 1964. A damaged culvert was approved to be opened up in 1991. Applications for a new culvert and balancing ponds, including earthworks, were approved between 2002 and 2004 allowing 95,000 cubic metres of material to be imported for the purpose.
An application to change use to sport and recreation was made in 2000 which was when the site was acquired by the current owner, although this would later be withdrawn.
An application to remediate the former landfill site and subsequently create a golf course and associated facilities was granted in 2006. This allowed 373,000 cubic metres of material to be imported.
More material than had been permitted by the planning permission was imported on to the site.
Due to its size the pool at Marlbrook Quarry is classified as a reservoir and consequently, the operator of the site is required to comply with the Reservoirs Act 1975. This legislation is enforced by the Environment Agency.
Who does the tip belong to?
Link Property Development Limited, a private limited company.
Who is responsible for it?
All land is the responsibility of the landowner.
What are the issues there?
The land comprising a former landfill site and reservoir requires some work to be carried out to be acceptable to the authorities.
The issues are specifically that
- The site as it is now is not deemed to be in an acceptable state by the council as planning authority, is not what was permitted, and requires action
- The site as it is now is not deemed to be in an acceptable state by the ‘panel engineer’ (see below) as regulator of reservoirs, and requires action.
Why is the council involved?
The council as local planning authority has a duty to ensure land within the district is developed appropriately and, where it is not, to ensure action is taken. It also has power act when developments are in breach of planning permission. It should take the most expedient action, having regard to relevant planning policies and considerations.
Who else is involved?
The Environment Agency is involved in the site covering three aspects - reservoir safety, waste regulation and water quality.
An independent Panel Engineer was appointed by the landowner to review the site, advise on and oversee the work to be carried out under the Reservoir Act.
Why isn't the council dealing with it unilaterally?
Reservoirs are subject to regulations and an enforcement regime set by the Reservoir Act 1975. This operates independently of the local planning system.
Before 2011 the waste activities on site were controlled under waste exemptions, which are regulated by the Environment Agency. In March 2011 the operators applied for and were granted an environmental permit for the site. Environmental permits are also regulated by the Environment Agency. The permit allows up to 50,000 tonnes of waste to be brought on to the site for construction purposes. To date, no waste has been brought on to the site under this permit.
The Environment Agency is also responsible for ensuring the protection of the local environment and watercourses. We are currently investigating two relatively minor instances of landfill leachate entering the nearby Catshill Brook. If necessary, an action plan will be prepared with the operator or the site to prevent further pollution of the brook and ensure the environment is protected.
Why have public meetings taken place?
Several public meetings have been held to give local residents affected or potentially affected by the site the opportunity to be involved directly with the senior officials from the various agencies working on the site. These open floor meetings have generally been held whenever potential new actions at the site have been identified.
What will happen next?
The site owner has received a report from the panel engineer which sets out a series of work that the site owner must by law carry out. The council recognises that this is the most appropriate available method of enforcement. Therefore, the council expects that the actions in this report will be carried out by the site owner in due course.
The headline action from the detailed report is planting of the site using an additional 300mm layer of restoration soils and partial re-contouring near the reservoir. The soil will provide a good base for grass to establish; a capping layer to provide physical protection against erosion; and is essential to ensure stability of the site.
The site owner must evidence that compliance with the panel engineer’s report has begun by March 2014. If the work is not carried out to the specifications or timescales of the Panel Engineer’s report, the Environment Agency will take suitable enforcement action.
The works required by the panel engineer's report require planning permission.
Have you investigated what happened?
The council launched an independent investigation into the circumstances of this breach of planning permission in 2010-11 after a new senior management team had been created. The full audit report is available in the documents on this page.
Responsibility for leading the council's part in the independent investigation, and the subsequent implementation of all its recommendations, was assumed by the Chief Executive. This was to ensure the broader lessons would be learned across the whole organisation as required, as well as the specific matters for the new Head and Director of Planning at that time.
It found weaknesses in the ability of the council to prevent the problem from occurring along with problems including handling complaints. The news release issued by the council in 2011 to summarise the report is available in the documents on this page.
Who is responsible at the council?
The Head of Planning and Regeneration is the council’s lead officer on this active planning matter, supported by the council’s legal services.
Who is responsible for the reservoir?
The site owner. The panel engineer is effectively a statutorily-required employee of the site owner. If the panel engineer perceives non-compliance with his report on the part of the site owner, it becomes an enforcement matter for the Environment Agency to pursue as appropriate.
Why isn't the ‘over-tipped’ material being removed?
Material is not being removed from the site generally because it would not appear to be in the public interest to do so, from a planning point of view and now the panel engineer’s observations. This has been discussed extensively throughout the public meetings held on the matter.
One reason for the planning decision not to require removal of the material is that a major effect on residents of the original over-tipping was the number of lorries delivering material over a long period. Removing the material would recreate the exact same problem, in addition to being an unsuitable solution for the site itself as it is now as stated by the panel engineer.
December 2017 Update
After an inspection by an independent Reservoirs Panel Engineer, a Section 8 notice was issued in February 2016, requiring 10 different types of works be undertaken by law around the reservoir for safety. Eight of those works had been completed by the owner of the site by the deadline of end of August 2017.
Bromsgrove District Council is working closely with the Environment Agency to discuss the most appropriate means to ensure the remaining two works are completed, whilst ensuring that the reservoir is safe. Surveys on the site are being commissioned to plan the next steps.
The panel engineer’s report, produced for the purpose of safeguarding the safety of the reservoir, recommends the importation of a minimum of 300 millimetres of soil across the site primarily for the purpose of growing grass. The landowner of the site has been reminded that the requirements of the Environment Agency does not negate the need to obtain planning permission for the importation of waste soils onto the site. However, the panel engineer’s report and the safety of the reservoir will be material planning considerations in the assessment of any planning application or decision regarding enforcement action.
The Council has not received a planning application for the importation of material onto the site and is fully aware that the landowner is continuing to do so without planning consent. As a result, a planning enforcement investigation has been opened. The reference number is 18/00324/INV.
Enforcement investigations are carried out in confidentiality. This means that Council Officers will not be able to update residents on formal action the Council intends to take, although they can inform residents when they have taken such action. Residents can communicate with Officers regarding what is happening on site, information about any alleged breach of planning control and its impact on the area, and general concerns about the site. The Council is grateful for the information residents have provided to date and would encourage residents to continue to keep a diary of events on the site.
To report any tipping incidents and to provide further information to the Council regarding activity on the site, please contact:
Ruth Bamford: Head of Planning and Regeneration, here are contact details
Any deposit of material on the highway should be reported to Worcestershire Highways Authority, using their on-line reporting facility. This is so the County road maintenance team can assess the situation regarding highway safety, and consider the erection of warning signage.
Clearing mud from the highway is a District Council function and can be reported here.
The obstruction of the safe movement of traffic on the public highway as a consequence of parked vehicles, and vehicles causing pedestrian safety incidents is a Police matter: https://www.westmercia.police.uk/has/parking.
Non-emergency number 101. Non-emergency email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marlbrook Tip Working Party
- Construction Engineer redacted report 2015-01-27
- Construction Engineer redacted report Environment Agency reasons for redactions 2015-02-05
- Marlbrook Tip planning history
- Marlbrook Tip Final Audit Report 2011-12-16
- Press release 2011-12 Lessons from Marlbrook Tip leading to changes
- Report Summary for Monitoring Group
- Report Summary for Monitoring Group Attachment 1
- Report Summary for Monitoring Group Attachment 2
- Public meeting 2011-11-29 minutes
- Public meeting 2011-11-29 presentation
- Public meeting 2012-03-13 notes
- Public meeting 2012-03-13 presentation
- Public meeting 2012-09-24 notes
- Public meeting 2012-09-24 presentation
- Public meeting 2014-02-10 notes
- Public meeting 2014-02-10 presentation
- Summary of responses since November 2011 2012-03-23
- Exea Associates Limited Final Report Marlbrook Landfill Site April 2016
- AECOM Plan Showing Existing and Proposed Monitoring Locations