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Friday, July 1, 2022



As villagers filtered out of Lickey Parish Hall from the latest public meeting about Marlbrook Tip, one man was heard to say: “You could make a comedy series out of that.” To which his friend replied: “More like a tragedy.”

They had just watched the latest act unfold in the tale of the former quarry, turned landfill site, turned golf course-that-never-was. It is now a reservoir.

The story so far has caused, at the very least, a disturbance to residents who have suffered thousands of lorries thundering past their homes containing waste from building sites to be tipped and spread over the site. Some have described it as far worse; as a nightmare.

Any feelings have been exacerbated by the frustration of dealing with a planning authority that failed to listen when villagers said there were too many lorries. That failure allowed one million tons too much spoil to be lugged up the Lickey Hills and dumped there.

Since it finally stopped this two years ago, Bromsgrove council has been telling residents it was drawing up a planning enforcement notice to serve on the owners. This might include making them contour the site to improve its appearance, but was unlikely to make them take away the excess spoil.

The residents were probably resigned to this; they weren’t satisfied, but their nightmare was over.

And then last month . . . they sat in a meeting to be told by slightly sick-faced council officers that, actually, they could be getting another six months’ worth of lorries bringing soil on to the site because of a convoluted legal situation created by what has already been dumped there.

There is now a hollow so large it could hold enough water to classify it as a reservoir and, as such, the Environment Agency takes precedence over the planning authority.

A Government-authorised engineer, chosen by the site owner, says that for this “reservoir” to be stable, another 300mm layer of soil needs to be spread over the site and seeded with grass.

The officer from the Environment Agency told those sitting in Lickey Parish Hall it was her job to make sure this happens. They were flabbergasted.

A week earlier, the same planning authority sent a letter to a car mechanic who over the past 18 months has established a popular business in Alvechurch.

It told him to cease trading at the site or face enforcement because the permission for his unit, while including car storage, did not include car repairs.

Neither of these tales are funny, and nor are they yet tragedies; but read together the story they tell is of a travesty of natural justice.