RYA objects to Hamble Airfield planning application

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA), a local Hamble business employing some 195 employees, has formally objected to the planning application by Cemex UK Ltd for the proposed extraction of minerals from Hamble Airfield.

By carefully considering the impact on the local community by the planned gravel extraction development, the RYA has expressed road safety concerns at the increase in traffic movements and more commercial vehicles using local roads, along with other environmental and business impacts. 

Many RYA staff reside in the local area and the commute to their place of work is likely to be affected by the increase in traffic movements, especially given the additional vehicle movements are to be timed to coincide with the morning peak.

Road safety concerns

The routes in question are not major roads constructed for facilitating significant traffic flow, nor fleets of HGV vehicles so it is expected that the type of commercial vehicles using the local roads will increase risks around road safety for pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers.  Additional heavy vehicle use will not only increase the risk of incidents and injury, but the residual debris from the HGV vehicles will also create a greater risk of damage to property and the environment.

Commenting on the RYA’s objection to the application, CEO Sara Sutcliffe MBE, said: “Safety of our staff and our visitors in their commute to our offices is a priority for us as a responsible employer and member organisation. We would find it harder to recruit and retain staff if our office facilities were too difficult to access.

“The increase in vehicle movements will make the safety of cyclists even more of an issue than it is now. Cyclists are already expected to use the road over the local railway bridge, which is inherently dangerous due to poor visibility. 

“In addition to the question of access and egress to our offices is the aspect of our service and supply deliveries, where delays could impact negatively on our business operations and reputation.”

Environmental impact

The RYA has also expressed concerns on the negative impact on the environment by the proposed gravel extraction operations. Sara added: “As a business which strives for sustainability for our employees and members, we consider the air quality and dust created by the gravel extraction will cause public health issues and will conflict with our policies to encourage sustainable practices.”

Vehicle emissions – NOx and diesel particulates being the key issue here. They will impact on pedestrians and cyclists, further reducing the incentive to cycle or walk to work, or indeed to walk from the station.

The reduction in incentives to walk or cycle due to the increased risks and reduced air quality noted above will have a knock-on effect on the environment, with more people likely to use their own cars as a result.

Loss of recreational amenities

As the National Governing Body for sailing and watersports, the RYA also has affiliations with several sailing clubs in the area who are likely to suffer a disturbance in their operations from increased traffic. As membership organisations, this access issue could create a financial disadvantage for them which could undermine their viability as a local sports club. This would directly impact on the local plan and community sports participation in the area and may impact on employment too.

The existing greenfield site offers the local community opportunity to gain recreational benefit. The conservation status of the site will be permanently damaged by the extraction development plan requiring the removal of trees and hedges, and this loss of amenity will have a negative impact on wildlife and the recreational opportunities in the local area for residents. 

While the developer plans to reinstate the site, the loss of amenity would persist for many years during extraction. The site at present sees little human impact and the extraction process will destroy existing ecological networks, which will take many decades to restore. This would be detrimental to wellbeing and public health where open space and exercise in natural surroundings have been identified as crucial for community good within national policy on health.

National Policy and Local Plan

Sara concluded: “In addition to the material concerns we raise as a local business with vested community interests, the fact that our local parish council has identified grounds why the application for sand and gravel extraction at Hamble Airfield is contrary to local and national policy, we also consider that this is a substantive material ground against permission being granted.

“The RYA therefore asks that the planning authority refuse permission for the development.”

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