The planned Yorkshire ‘Energy Park’ is, in fact, just a business park. The energy element will be for the benefit of the companies who occupy the space, companies which still cannot be confirmed by the sales team for the YEP. I have been asked more than once whether there will be ‘windmills’ on site, assuming the energy will be harnessed from a renewable energy source. They intend to use natural gas which, while cleaner than coal, is a highly flammable fossil fuel which will contribute to climate change and air pollution. A statement on the public consultation documents released in May says “This will be a high quality low density Business Park with clean energy generation…” Natural gas is not clean. It is cleaner than coal, but still not clean. The burning of natural gas produces nitrogen oxides. Burning coal produces a lot more and that doesn’t include the many other pollutants released into our atmosphere by the burning of coal, but that doesn’t make natural gas clean. It is misleading to say it is. In addition, the demand upon natural gases from the North Sea is already stretched and as a country we need to seriously consider reducing our dependence upon it. This development seems like a step in the wrong direction. British Gas import 55% of their gas from outside the UK and a statement on their website briefly explains why. “As the amount of gas that can be extracted from the North Sea declines, we’ll need to import more to ensure a regular and reliable supply to the UK.”
Air pollution is a significant concern, both currently and in the future. Reducing air pollution is something the UK should strongly be working towards. This goes hand-in-hand with preserving green spaces. The planning documents state that the proposed scheme would give off pollutants in the form of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, whereas the site as it is now has no negative effect on air pollution. In fact, the greenery and lack of industry have a positive effect on local air pollution.
One claim by the would-be developers getting a great deal of attention is the increase in jobs for the local community. During various public consultations about the YEP, the sales teams have stated on behalf of the developers that they have not promised any particular number of jobs, and that the claims made by newspapers about hundreds of jobs are pure fabrication. They have said that they do not know how many jobs will be created. With this in mind, even if the claims made by newspapers are close to correct, there is no guarantee that these jobs will be given to locals. Large companies often bring managerial staff from other places rather than train new people, leaving more menial jobs to locals. It is notable that Yorkshire Water claimed that there would be increased job opportunities for local people, but most of their employees today cannot say that Hedon is their home. In addition, if the jobs were created and given to local people, those opportunities would still be available if the YEP was to be built somewhere else in the Hull area.
Local residents are also worried about the consequences of increased congestion which would be caused by the intended Energy Park. At rush hour there are often hold-ups along the stretch of road adjacent to the site of the proposed scheme, which would inevitably be made worse if the proposed scheme were to go ahead. In regards to safety, already a large percentage of traffic is made up of HGVs, causing road damage and risk to pedestrians, cyclists and smaller vehicles. I feel that to increase the levels of these large vehicles would be irresponsible. It is also inevitable that more traffic would create noise in a relatively quiet town and increase pollution in the area.
The site itself would also produce noise. Their planning documents indicate that the difference would be very little, however, there is currently no noise coming from the Hedon Aerodrome site so any addition would be noticeable. Any noticeable increase in noise would have a negative effect on the rural surroundings of the site.
The appearance of the buildings in the proposed scheme is also unacceptable. Some of the structures would reach 8 storeys (80ft or 24.4m), and more than half of the buildings are 4 storeys or higher. In addition, a significant number of these structures would be warehouses, and therefore likely to be constructed from corrugated metal. There are currently no large warehouses situated in the green spaces which directly surround Hedon, so to build any would be immediately invasive.
The proposed scheme would significantly risk the wildlife population in the local area. The developers have said they will create a nature reserve, which may sound attractive but it will not be scenic, because the landscape will still include a view of large warehouses. Hedon Aerodrome is currently an eco-system with grasses, wildflowers, insects, hares, rabbits, bats, deer, birds, grass snakes and great crested newts. The risk to birds are a particular concern. There are large number of birds for which the Hedon Aerodrome site is important including skylarks, lapwings and curlews. Many of these birds are red or amber listed, protected species of conservation concern. These birds are under threat across the British Isles due to increasing industry and human occupation. The key bird of interest in the planning documents is the curlew, which land in great numbers where the proposed scheme plans to place warehouses. Curlews would not return if their key landing site is built on. Though the nature reserve sounds generous, the many species of birds which rely on the site are mostly found in the area which would be developed, so it is reasonable to assume that the proposed scheme would severely damage the local wildlife, especially birds.
For a few years now the RSPB has been running the ‘Give Nature a Home’ campaign. Nature already has a home on Hedon Aerodrome, and the developers intend to cover it in concrete and corrugated metal. In fact, the RSPB have noted their opposition to the scheme on the planning documents – to read a copy of their statement please click here.
It is also worth noting that the site could no longer be used by dog walkers or by young people to play. Contrary to popular opinion, the ‘Mile Straight’ won’t a pedestrian area. People will not be allowed to walk on it.
Throughout the public consultations, the sales team for the YEP claimed that they would not only prevent flooding becoming an issue, but they’d improve the flooding situation from its current state. This was always mistrusted by those who opposed the planned scheme as the development would reduce what is currently a floodplain and destroy plant-life, which drinks floodwater. However, the planning documents counteract the sales team’s claims entirely. In fact, the documents admit that the risk of flooding would be increased. Their intention to alleviate the risk to their own site by raising the ground-levels, would only cause the floodwater to run elsewhere, such as onto surrounding farmland and towns.
Their choice of site is very questionable. It is politically inappropriate, as it has been designated for the purpose of maintaining the separation between Hull and Hedon. The capability of the land to support the proposed scheme is also questionable, due to layers of chalk and silt, and when you consider the possibility of unexploded bombs, it would seem their choice of location has been unwise.
The impact of the proposed scheme on the historic town of Hedon would be substantial and negative, and is a major concern to local residents. To quote the planning documents, “the site is identified as a ‘Key Open Area’ in the adopted East Riding of Yorkshire Local Plan, which recognises that the site plays a role in maintaining a physical separation between Hull and Preston South / Hedon.” To shrink this important area would be irresponsible as it could set a precedent for further building between Hedon and Hull, which would ease the merging of the two, something Hedon does not want. The landslide 96.5% vote against the extending of Hull boundaries in 2014, made it clear that the small towns and villages in the East Riding are insistent upon remaining independent. Independent towns all over England are a part of our country’s heritage, and this factor should not be discredited. The bigger picture needs to be considered. If cities continue to swallow all around them, and industrialize what is beautiful, that entire heritage will be lost.
The open area of the Hedon Aerodrome contributes to the atmosphere of Hedon, a small town in a rural setting with a population of people wishing to live outside the noise, pollution and bustle of an industrial or city environment. The site of Hedon Aerodrome in its current state has no negative effect on the local landscape. Rather, the greenery and lack of industry have a positive effect on the local landscape and character of the area.
An alternative proposal for a Country Park to be created on Hedon Aerodrome, has been suggested by our Mayor, Neil Black who is fighting the plans for the YEP on behalf of the town. The green land would be protected and remain beautiful, some jobs would be created and Hull and Hedon would receive mutual benefit from the increase in tourism to the area.
(Page updated 07/07/2017)