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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Record number of objections to north Cumbrian slurry lagoon

Plans for a massive slurry lagoon have triggered a record number of objections.

Peter Sabuldihin photo
Peter Sabuldihin

Carlisle City Council says the number of complaints against the contentious development, on the edge of Longtown, are “exceptionally high”. A total of 1,401 letters and emails of opposition to the proposal have been handed in – the most the authority has ever received for one application.

The most commented-on application remains Story Homes’ 800-plus homes scheme at at Crindledyke, near Carlisle, which got 1,627 responses – but only 444 of those were in opposition.

The latest consultation regarding the two million gallon container plan, which closed last week, includes objections from doctors at Longtown Medical Practice.

Peter Sabuldihin, the practice manager, signed a letter on the partners’ behalf.

He said: “We represent the doctors and health professionals at Longtown Medical Practice and are very concerned that the proposal for this slurry lagoon appears to have been made without properly assessing the risks attached to its construction and operation.

“We understand that in normal practice a properly scoped and constituted risk assessment would be made and any risks identified by this would be properly mitigated or eradicated.”

He also said reports submitted on the lagoon were “based on an unsafe premise” and the lagoon could see “hazardous pathogens” over a wide area.

“Without a risk assessment we cannot predict the potential outcome of any increase in disease caused by this development and we are required to produce a major incident management plan for all predictable incidents of which an increase in pathogen-induced disease would be one,” Mr Sabuldihin added.

“Without such an emergency plan we are unable to predict resource requirement and would have to rely on the flexibility of NHS England to supply immediate resourcing.”

He also questioned the issue of insurance, commenting that the practice and NHS could be left to pick up the bill for any incident.

Mr Sabuldihan also told The Cumberland News: “I have not seen anything to say that people have looked at it, checked and done a risk assessment.”

The proposed lagoon would be near Scaurbank Wood, to the north east of Longtown.

The application has been submitted by Robin and Moira Fisher, of Smalmstown, which sits on the road to Gretna.

The lagoon would be 500 metres, less than a third of a mile, from Lovers Lane in Longtown, the nearest residential street.

In their application, the Fishers say they need the lagoon to “future proof” their business”. They have more than 1,000 cows and are currently able to store 500,000 gallons of slurry, which they say is not enough for their needs.

Councillors were due to debate the application in July last year but deferred this after a report highlighting a number of concerns was submitted.

Another organisation to object has been conservation charity The Woodland Trust.

Katherine Rist, a campaigner for the group, said: “Although the woodland is not on the ancient woodland inventory (a list of areas that have been wooded since at least 1600) we have carried out mapping research at the site and can date the woodland back to at least 1868.

“Therefore we would recommend that further research needs to be carried out to determine if the site is ancient before the planning decision is made.”

A Facebook campaign opposing the plans has also been set up and has been heavily commented on.

One post, by Pauline Brown said: “If we need to have a march, count me in.”

Another, by Sarah Dawson, who attended the last meeting of Arthuret parish council with a group of residents, said: “Just hope we can get as many Longtown people together when council have the meeting in Carlisle, we need to carry on showing we don’t want this lagoon.”

Mr Fisher declined to comment.

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