At its 1 June meeting, Saltford Parish Council voted to support the planning consultation submitted by Wessex Water to build a bridge over the River Avon near its Mead Lane plant in Saltford.
Saltford Parish Councillors discussed the merits of the consultation at the meeting. Acknowledging the need for better access for Wessex Water vehicles in consideration of expansion plans for the site, the Council recognised that the proposed plans kept Green Belt loss to a minimum when compared with other previously presented proposals.
The Council also agreed that Wessex Water’s plans to even out traffic load between the A4 and A431 was a practical option, helping to reduce the overloading issues experienced by the A4 Bath Road during busy periods as well as enabling better access for Wessex Water’s heavy vehicles by avoiding Saltford’s narrow single-lane residential roads.
Saltford Parish Council also appreciated the benefits of the proposal on the natural environment, including Wessex Water’s proposal to create a new wetland habitat in Saltford.
Phil Harding, Chair of Saltford Parish Council’s Planning Committee, said “Saltford Parish Council supports Wessex Water’s proposals for the new access route into the Mead Lane site to be a new bridge over the River Avon giving direct access from the A431 close by. The Parish Council acknowledges that this is the most practical and sensible solution compared to the other options considered, minimising loss of Green Belt land and natural habitat, as well as helping to spread and share the transport load for this important infrastructure facility more evenly across roads in the local and wider area as borne out by the Atkins Transport Statement accompanying the planning application. HGVs have experienced many difficulties visiting the site via Saltford’s Norman Road, High Street and Mead Lane that are narrow and single-lane along several lengths, so the new access bridge route should greatly alleviate those problems for residents and visitors as well as for HGVs visiting the site. The Parish Council also welcomes the proposals for a Wetland Habitat that, if implemented successfully, should provide an opportunity to provide a net gain in biodiversity for the whole project and a habitat that has previously been lost in this part of the Avon floodplain.”
A full copy of Saltford Parish Council’s response to this B&NES Council planning consultation is as follows:
SUPPORT: Saltford Parish Council is supportive in principle of this planning application. As these proposals keep Green Belt loss to a minimum and taking account of environmental and sustainable development considerations, we strongly prefer this proposed route including a bridge over the River Avon connecting the site to the A431 compared to alternative proposals considered by Wessex Water before this application was submitted. The Bath Road (A4) already has severe traffic congestion at peak periods arising from new housing developments in the area; sharing the volume of vehicles travelling to and from this important infrastructure facility between the existing access from the A4 and the A431 should help spread the load on local roads more evenly.
Saltford Parish Council also supports the proposals for wildlife enhancement to be provided by the wetland scrape that, if implemented successfully and taking account of our further comments below, should result in a welcome net gain in biodiversity for the overall project. This would be seen as a useful example of B&NES Council implementing a planning policy response to its declaration in July 2020 of the ecological emergency.
Saltford Parish Council wishes to emphasise that to avoid compromising the new habitat’s value to wetland birds, a habitat that has previously been lost in this part of the Avon floodplain, it will be important to ensure disturbance to wildlife from the adjacent public footpaths is minimised and avoided wherever possible. Suitable screening and fencing together with management of existing or new trees to an appropriately low height, i.e. a regular pollarding regime, around the margins of the wetland area will also be essential to ensure wetland birds are not deterred from using the wetland habitat. Saltford Parish Council is confident that appropriate professional ecological advice for the finer design and management details of those aspects prior to the creation of the new habitat can reduce their effects greatly.
If the case officer is minded to refuse this planning application Saltford Parish Council requests that it be referred to the Development Management Committee for determination.