At a Zoom meeting today, the South Norfolk District Council Development Committee approved plans for the extension of the Colney Burial site. The extension borders on the River Yare and the Bowthorpe fishing lakes. It takes the form of a narrow strip close to the river connecting to a larger area to the east of the existing site
At the meeting Colney Parish and the Yare Valley Society expressed concerns before approval was given.
The Yare Valley Society pushed for the Development to safeguard, and where possible enhance, the landscape character of the valley, and for there to be no risk of pollution to the river from the burial site. Colney Parish drew particular attention to the regularity of flooding of some of the site from the river, and the increased pollution that could result.
By a vote of 4 to 1 approval was given subject to a number of conditions that went part way to addressing concerns.
Protection of the landscape and ecology will be addressed by a Landscape and Woodland Management Plan. This will include a commitment to increase the proportion of native trees and to safeguard local wildlife. The protection of a heronry will be included in the plan.
The pollution issue is complex. The Tier Two Groundwater Risk Assessment Survey for the site concluded the site to be high risk with the close proximity of the River Yare contributing significantly to the overall risk.
The Environmental Agency, as recently as November 2019, reported the Yare had unacceptable levels of chemical pollution, and that targets for improvement are likely to be missed. YVS argued that now is not the time to be accepting further pollution of our rivers by new developments. Adding more pollution to the river would not bring the pollution problem under control and would result in further damage to our river ecosystems. Flooding would add a further unknown in assessing the likelihood of river pollution.
The approval was given subject to groundwater monitoring of the site, and a flood evacuation plan being in place.
The YVS continues to be concerned about possible contamination of the river and the effectiveness of monitoring. On the positive side, an effective implementation of a Landscape and Woodland Plan should safeguard the visual attractiveness and the ecology of this part of the Valley for the foreseeable future.
Please note that an Eastern Daily Press article on the decision entitled “The hearses will have to go on boats” should have given the correct names of the representatives of Colney Parish and the Yare Valley Society as Bee Korn and John Elbro respectively.