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Chapter 6 - Environmental Resources and Protection

Introduction

6.1 One of the main areas of public concern about the effects of built developments is their environmental impact, whether or not an individual scheme formally requires the submission of an Environmental Statement. This Chapter sets out the Council’s environmental approach to both major and other development, and the Plan’s aims for how environmental protection should become a steadily more significant dimension of land use planning in the District.

6.2 Development invariably consumes a number of resources which are environmental in nature, such as energy and water, and also gives rise to waste products in construction, occupation and ultimately its demolition. This Chapter seeks to carry forward environmental resource conservation objectives into its planning functions, in a way which reflects their relevance to built development.

6.3 The District Council, as Planning Authority, looks to site owners and to specialist bodies such as the Environment Agency and Essex County Council to play their part in co-ordinating these planning policies with other controls, such as the Integrated Pollution Control and Waste Management regimes, which also bear upon environmental resources and protection issues.

Policy Context

6.4 The Local Plan environmental protection policies and proposals have been prepared in the light of government advice and the Essex and Southend- on-Sea Replacement Structure Plan.

Aims and Objectives

6.5 The aims and objectives of this Plan are derived from the national and county policy context, and the Braintree Quality of Life Plan, published in June 1999.

6.6 The Council’s overall aims in relation to environmental resources and protection are to make sure that energy, water and other natural resources are used efficiently, and to reduce pollution and the amount of refuse created in the District. The construction, occupation and eventual demolition of buildings and other developments account for a substantial proportion of the energy and water consumption and generation of waste and refuse.

Policies

POLLUTION

6.7 Government advice, currently in PPS 23 (Planning and Pollution Control) and PPG24 (Noise), emphasises the need to separate potentially polluting and other land uses to reduce conflicts. The Environment Agency (EA) has a wide range of powers and duties to control pollution using systems of consents and licences. All new developments are required to gain prior agreement to connect to the public foul/surface water sewers. Development may also be subject to planning restrictions to require prior agreement to connect to a mains sewer (with separate advice to developers on means of treatment). Where connection to the public foul sewer is shown not to be feasible, early consultation with the Environment Agency regarding alternative methods of disposal is advisable.

6.8 The Environment Agency therefore supports a comprehensive policy approach, to ensure that the planning control process addresses all environmental protection issues in built development not clearly covered by other legislation. Developers will be required to have regard to the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations which are designed to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution at source through the prudent use of natural resources; and intended to help industrial operators move towards greater environmental sustainability.

Policy RLP 62 Development Likely to Give Rise to Pollution, or the Risk of Pollution

Planning permission will not be granted for development including changes of use which will, or could potentially, give rise to polluting emissions to land, air and water, or harm to nearby residents including noise, smell, fumes, vibration or other similar consequences, unless: i) adequate preventative measures have been taken to ensure that any discharges or emissions, including those which require the consent of statutory agencies, will not cause harm to land use, including the effects on health and the natural environment; andii) adequate preventative measures have been takento ensure that there is not an unacceptable risk of uncontrolled discharges or emissions occurring, which could cause harm to land use, including the effects on health and the natural environment.

AIR QUALITY

6.9 The District Council is responsible for enforcing the Local Authority Air Pollution Control (LAAPC), which was introduced by Part 1 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It is also responsible for enforcing smoke, grit and dust controls of the Clean Air Act 1993. Part IV of the Environment Act 1995 sets out the system of local air quality management in which the District Council is required to carry out periodic reviews of air quality in its area and to assess these against stated national objectives. Where such objectives are unlikely to be met, the District Council will be required to designate an Air Quality Management Area and make an action plan for improvements in air quality. Clear links have been established between air quality and land-use planning, with transport identified as the main source of pollutants. By guiding the location of new development, such as industry and housing, reducing the need to travel and promoting transport choices, land use planning will form an important element of a integrated strategy to achieve air quality standards and objectives. Air quality objectives are set by central government and are subject to continuous review. Applicants should refer to the most up to date legislation at the time an application is made. Air quality assessments should use an acceptable modelling or mathematical technique that shows that the current air quality objectives are not likely to be breached, or that the proposal is not likely to cause nuisance to any party.

Policy RLP 63 Air Quality

Where the District Council considers that air quality objectives are likely to be prejudiced, as a result of development proposals and/or resultant traffic movements, applicants will be required to submit a specialist assessment. Planning permission will be refused for developments where air quality objectives cannot be met.

DEVELOPMENT ON CONTAMINATED LAND

6.10 As the emphasis in sustainable development moves further towards re-use of previously developed land, the proportion of development sites affected by contamination will increase. This nevertheless provides an opportunity to address long term contamination threats to health and the environment, through the development process. Planning Policy Statement 23: Planning and Pollution Control spells out the government approach, to treat such land to make it suitable for its actual or intended use. The Council wishes to encourage the use of previously developed land and seeks to secure the appropriate treatment of such sites. Engineering works required to investigate a site may require planning consent. Care must be taken to prevent the disturbance and spreading of any existing contamination on the site.

Policy RLP 64 Contaminated Land

An applicant proposing development on or near a site where contamination may exist, should carry out a thorough investigation, so as to establish the nature and extent of the contamination. Results should be submitted to the District Council as part of the planning application. Development will not be permitted unless practicable and effective measures are taken to treat, contain or control any contamination so as not to:

a) Expose the occupiers of the development and neighbouring land uses, including in the case of housing, the users of gardens, to unacceptable risk;

b) Threaten the structural integrity of any building built, or to be built, on or adjoining the site;

c) Lead to the contamination of any watercourse, water body or aquifer;

d) Cause the contamination of adjoining land or allow such contamination to continue;

e) Have an adverse effect upon natural habitats and ecosystems.

Where possible contamination should be treated on site. Any permission for development will require that the remedial measures agreed with the authority must be completed as the first stage of the development.

LIGHT POLLUTION

6.11 External lighting is increasingly seen as an intrusive and avoidable source of pollution, in terms of the character of rural and tranquil areas at night, settings of listed buildings and other heritage areas and features, and not least, the potential for loss residential amenity for neighbours in both town and country and distraction for amateur and professional astronomers. Although planning controls do not currently extend to most residential or roadside lighting, the Council seeks to use the detailed design stages of planning applications to achieve external lighting, which minimises these impacts compatible with community safety objectives.

Policy RLP 65 External Lighting

Proposals for external lighting which require planning permission will only be permitted if:

1. The lighting is designed as an integral element of the development;

2. Low energy lighting is used;

3. The alignment of lamps and provision of shielding minimises spillage and glow, including into the night sky;

4. The lighting intensity is no greater than necessary to provide adequate illumination; and

5. There is no significant loss of privacy or amenity to nearby residential properties and no danger to pedestrians and road users;

6. There is no unacceptable harm to natural ecosystems.

FLOOD PROTECTION

6.12 The flooding of land, by rivers and the sea, is an established planning consideration. The issue has been gaining in importance, due to the need to avoid an increasing dependence on engineered defence works, and the rising incidence of inland and coastal flooding. In Braintree District this has taken the form of significant river flooding.

6.13 The Environment Agency has a lead role in strategic flood risk planning, holding information on historic flood events and indicative flood risk area maps.The flood zones on the Proposals Map include:-

- Zone 3 (at risk in a 1% chance flood from rivers or 0.5% chance flood from the sea).

- Zone 2 (within the extent of the 0.1% chance flood, but outside Zone 3).

- Historic Flood Map (the combined extents of known flooding from rivers, sea and ground water).

Development in the flood plain is not only at risk from flooding itself, but may reduce the amount of land available for storage, which can increase the risk of flooding off-site. In addition, its surface water runoff can increase flood risk through increases in impermeable land. Mitigation works will therefore only enable development in areas at flood risk to proceed where they can successfully manage increased flood risks on- and/or off-site and are effective for the lifetime of the development (normally taken to be 50 years).

The approach to flood protection is set out in PPG25 PPS25 which stresses that, even where land is considered to be at low risk of flooding, a sequence of precautionary and risk management approaches should be adopted to establish whether the development is acceptable.

6.14 The flood zone information on the Proposals Maps has been supplied by the Environment Agency. This information is regularly updated by the Environment Agency, therefore it is necessary to check with them that this is the most recent flood zone alignment. The map shows the indicative flood zones as submitted by the Environment Agency at the time of publication of the adopted plan. For further information on flood zones, please contact the Environment Agency.

6.15 The EA has a policy of discouraging the culverting of watercourses, due to difficulties of maintenance and pollution detection, loss and severing of wildlife habitats and higher risks of flooding. The EA will encourage developers to incorporate open water courses within site design for wildlife and the retention of land as buffer strips, so as to maintain a flood channel. Developers are reminded of the benefits of early discussions with the Environment Agency where development may potentially affect watercourses.

RLP 66 Flood Risk in Developed and Urban Areas

(Policy expired 24 July 2008)

In developed and urban areas, within indicative flood plains, proposals for redevelopment will be accepted, provided that:

1) A full Flood Risk Assessment has been conducted;

2) They do not substantially extend the footprint of the developed area;

3) Any residential or publicly accessible floor area is raised above the 1% annual probability flood level;

4) All ground-floor development below the 1% annual probability flood level is fully flood-proofed. Flood-proofing techniques include using flood-resistant bricks, having power points high up walls and using waterproof sealant on floors and walls; and

5) If the ground level of the site is raised, the developer contributes to the creation of compensatory flood storage capacity elsewhere within the floodplain and to any other necessary flood alleviation measures. Mitigation measures should have no adverse impact on nature conservation interests or the natural landscape.

 

RLP 67 Flood Risk in Undeveloped Areas

(Policy expired 24 July 2008)

Flood protection for any new development in undeveloped areas should be to the appropriate minimum standard of the 1% annual probability flood event level (e.g. the 1 in 100 year event) - and this standard must be maintained for the expected lifetime of the development. Developers will be required to fund whatever mitigation/flood defence improvement works are deemed necessary in the findings of the FRA to achieve the above flood protection. Mitigation measures should have no adverse impact on nature conservation interests or the natural landscape.

Any application for development in an undeveloped area must be accompanied by a full flood risk assessment.

 

Policy RLP 68 Functional Floodplains

(Policy expired 24 July 2008)

In functional floodplains, which are the unobstructed or active areas where water regularly flows in times of flood, any built development will be wholly exceptional and limited to essential infrastructure that has to be there (such as boat-houses). Such infrastructure should be designed and constructed so as to result in no net loss of flood plain storage, no impedance of flood flows and no increase in flood risk elsewhere. Any applications for development in functional floodplains must be accompanied by a full flood risk assessment. Functional floodplains should be restored wherever possible.

SURFACE WATER DRAINAGE

6.16 Drainage of surface water from paved areas in planning and highway design has changed little for more than 100 years. When a previously ‘greenfield’ area is first covered by buildings or hard surfaces, the traditional practice of drainage authorities and designers is to remove runoff from roofs, pavements and roadways directly into pipes, to either a separate surface water sewer, or a combined foul and surface sewer. This is designed to minimise flood risk in the immediate vicinity, and does not recognise any disadvantages due to increased pollution, reductions in the quantity of water available to recharge rivers and underground aquifers, or the potential for the retention and recycling of water within a development.

6.17 Circular 30/92, superseded by PPG25, recognises the importance of on-site methods of containing increased run-off from urban development. This is because impermeable surfaces, such as paved areas and roofs increase the quantity and rate of rainfall run-off to watercourses, with cumulatively greater flood risk and contamination (picking up pollutants such as dust, oil, litter and organic material, especially from vehicle areas). The need to ensure long term maintenance of any new storage, or flow control features, is stressed.

6.18 Surface water storage can improve amenity and biodiversity in urban areas, for example new balancing ponds can be viewed as a recreational resource and a wildlife habitat. Where land is thought to be contaminated, measures may be required to prevent leaching of contaminants into surface and ground waters. The sustainability principles on which PPG25 is based also recognise (Appendix E5) the ability to collect a high proportion of rain from roofs and other impermeable surfaces, mainly by butts, and the recycling of waste water for re-use as ‘grey water’ for washing, WC flushing and other non - potable purposes. Other techniques include low-flush toilets and efficient water - using appliances in new development.

6.19 The Environment Agency advises on development and flood risk matters. Advice is currently available on sustainable drainage systems in the Construction Industries Research and Information Association reports C522 (Sustainable Urban Drainage Design Manual) and C523 (Sustainable Urban Drainage Best Practice Manual).

6.20 The Council recommends that advice be sought from drainage engineers to design sustainable drainage schemes and that the Environment Agency and other agencies (including Drainage Undertakers) on potential systems, be consulted on their suitability in specific locations. Arrangements will be expected to be in place to ensure the long term maintenance of sustainable drainage systems.

Policy RLP 69 Sustainable Drainage

Where appropriate, the District Council will require developers to use Sustainable Drainage techniques such as grass swales, detention/retention ponds and porous paving surfaces, as methods of flood protection, pollution control and aquifer recharge.

WATER EFFICIENCY

Policy RLP 70 Water Efficiency

The District Council will require measures that reduce the demand for water in all new developments, including low volume systems and grey water recycling.

WATER RESOURCES

6.21 Longer term water supply is an increasing area for concern, particularly in the plan - making process, as recognised in PPG12. Supply in northern Essex and adjacent parts of East Anglia is recognised by the Environment Agency and the local authorities as a potentially major issue over at least the next two decades. The groundwater resources of Essex are already committed to maintaining river flows and existing abstractions. The Environment Agency advises that the production of the Combined Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy (CAMS) to manage water resources locally through a holistic approach will begin in April 2005 and should be complete by March 2007.

6.22 Anglian Water Services and the Essex and Suffolk Water Company each supply water within different parts of Braintree District. Whilst it is the water companies’ responsibility to maintain supplies, the Development Plan for the District should require developers, through consultation with the water companies and Environment Agency, to demonstrate that water infrastructure can be made available at a sufficient rate to cater for developments. It is noted that there may be potential supply difficulties in some instances. A similar requirement is contained in the Essex Structure Plan, and is needed to guide individual developments through the District Local Plan Review.

Policy RLP 71 Water Supply, Sewerage and Land Drainage

Planning permission will not be given where there is inadequate water supply, sewerage or land drainage systems (including water sources, water and sewage treatment works) available to meet the anticipated demands of the development, unless there is an agreed phasing arrangement between the developer and the relevant service provider, for the provision of the necessary infrastructure. In line with the Environment Agencies’ Pollution prevention guide lines on disposal of sewage, where no mains drainage is available, developers must show that they are proposing adequate facilities to service the development. Where a septic tank is proposed it is essential that a percolation test is carried out, as set out in the EA guidelines. Where agricultural reservoirs are proposed, a bunded area will be required so as to maintain water levels for the benefit of wildlife.

GROUND AND SURFACE WATER PROTECTION

6.23 Groundwaters supply a high proportion of freshwater, for consumption as well as recharging rivers. If polluted, groundwater is very difficult to clean, and potable supplies are affected. Its role in maintenance of aquifers and surface water is also vital.

Policy RLP 72 Water Quality

Development will not be permitted which poses an unacceptable risk to the quality of the underlying groundwater, or surface waters.

WASTE MINIMISATION IN DEVELOPMENT

6.24 The Essex Waste Local Plan is a statutory document, which along with the Structure Plan, Local Plan Review and Minerals Local Plan comprise the Development Plan for the District. The Waste Local Plan is a leading consideration in planning proposals for waste management facilities, and aims to work towards sustainable waste management in the County, through waste minimisation, re-use and recycling and consequent reductions in landfill as a final means of disposal. Essex local authorities have set a minimum target of 60% of waste to be recycled or composted by 2007.

6.25 A large part of this change depends on greater waste minimisation by householders, commercial and other organisations, and the construction and primary sectors. A significant potential also exists in relation to the construction of new development and other building operations, and its subsequent occupation and demolition or removal. This Plan addresses this issue in a practical way, by seeking suitable arrangements for minimising construction waste and the provision of waste separation and storage facilities within schemes. Both major and smaller developments should be accompanied by a statement setting out how the waste issues in construction, occupation and demolition are being addressed.

Policy RLP 73 Waste Minimisation

Detailed or reserved matters applications for new development, building or other operations shall be accompanied by a supporting statement and drawings where relevant, demonstrating:

- How waste and waste materials generated by the development are to be minimised, re-used, reclaimed or recycled;

- That the potential pollution from waste is minimised and that unavoidable waste is disposed of, so as to avoid or minimise adverse environmental effects;

- How waste can be minimised during the construction of the development and its eventual demolition or removal.

 

Policy RLP 74 Provision of Space for Recycling

New development should incorporate adequate space for internal and external separation, storage and collection, to facilitate the recycling of waste generated within the building(s). For larger developments, including those with a significant public, tourist or customer presence, the development shall include designated space for a waste recycling facility in an accessible location. Supplementary guidance will be produced on the detailed floor space and design requirements for typical built developments. Proposals for waste reprocessing facilities will be permitted in suitable locations within employment policy areas.

 

Policy RLP 75 Waste Reprocessing Facilities

Development proposals involving waste recovery (such as recycling, waste transfer stations and composting) will be permitted in employment policy areas, subject to:

i) there being no unacceptable adverse impact on adjoining uses by reason of noise, smell, dust or other airborne pollutants

ii) there being no adverse impact on the surrounding road network either in terms of road safety or capacity.

RENEWABLE ENERGY SCHEMES

6.26 Braintree Council wishes to increase the use of sources of renewable energy in the District, to contribute towards diversity of supply, the local economy, potentially cheaper sources of fuel and reductions in harmful emissions to the environment. A number of potential sources are available in the District, each referred to within Planning Policy Statement 22: Renewable Energy as increasingly viable and suitable local sources:

- Solar power;

- Bio - mass (forestry and farm wastes)

- Wind turbines

- Landfill gas

- Municipal (compost) and industrial waste

- Other developing sources - including photovoltaics, which is the conversion of light into electrical energy.

A number of these, most notably wind turbines, have specific locational requirements, which may give rise to possible conflicts with areas of major landscape, nature conservation, or heritage importance. Within most of the District, however, there are no overriding constraints, which are envisaged as ruling out renewable energy schemes.

Policy RLP 76 Renewable Energy

Proposals for renewable energy schemes and the integration of renewable energy generation into new developments, will be encouraged and permitted where no demonstrable harm is caused to landscape, nature conservation, or historic features within or immediately adjacent to the site. Developers are also encouraged to enter into a dialogue with the District Council to identify sites for renewable energy development.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION

6.27 As with schemes specifically designed to act as renewable energy sources for a wider area, so individual new built developments can assist in reducing total energy requirements. The siting, layout and design of development, and also construction methods and materials (with techniques such as Life Cycle Analysis) can all play a part. Active water heating systems and passive solar design are becoming recognised as achievable within both housing and other development schemes.

Policy RLP 77 Energy Efficiency

New development proposals shall clearly demonstrate the optimum use of energy conservation and incorporate energy conservation and efficiency measures, including where appropriate passive solar gain or other systems and the use of energy-efficient appliances, in order to contribute to the reduction in their total energy consumption.



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