To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
All public questions received referred to Application 22/00907/FULL – Retention of disused quarry for use as two firing ranges at Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, Pondground Quarry, Holcombe Rogus
First question: as part of the 2004 Application, Devon and Cornwall state that the site will be used once a fortnight. Are you aware of this, and if so, do you consider “historical use” just that, or rather 70 days, which increase occurred following cessation of Planning Permission?
Second question: do you have confidence in the guidance given to you by the EHO relating to noise and its impact?
· Your decision must be based on Planning issues
· To quote from the DEFRA Noise Policy Statement:
o …….. noise has no adverse effect so long as the exposure does not cause any change in behaviour, attitude or other physiological responses of those affected by it……. increasing noise exposure will at some point cause the ‘significant observed adverse effect’ level boundary to be crossed and result in a material change in behaviour such as keeping windows closed for most of the time or avoiding certain activities during periods when the noise is present
· Are you confident that the (brief) visits made by the EHO to site reflect actual usage of site over a prolonged period?
· Are you confident that the visits made by the EHO to site, and the judgements made subsequently, objectively identify:
o actual live firing volume and duration (the EHO observations conflict with the experience of local residents)
o any possible “adverse affects and material changes of behaviour” in the case of local residents (and animals)
I would like to ask the Committee if you are confident that the CIEH guidelines really do not apply in this case, as directed by the EHO and advised in the Case Officer’s report, when the two reports from the acoustic experts provided by the objectors (Parker Jones and LF Acoustics) say completely the contrary. Furthermore are you aware that there is widespread evidence that other planning authorities have used the CIEH guidelines in determining similar cases as they are considered to be the nearest applicable standard for firing ranges.
Are you confident that you have been presented with a fair, balanced and unbiased noise assessment? The Case Officer’s report includes approximately 350 lines from the EHO’s opinions on the impact of the shooting noise and criticisms of the objector’s noise reports but does not include ANY extracts from the Parker Jones or LF Acoustics reports despite them being qualified acoustics experts who challenge the EHOs opinions on many grounds.
As to the noise report from Acoustic Consultants Limited provided by the applicant, which says the CIEH guidelines don’t apply in the Pondground application, are you aware that these same experts specifically used the CIEH guidelines in assessing another application for a firing range in a disused quarry? No mention is made of this contradiction in the Case Officer’s Report despite it being raised in a letter dated 20th September 2023 from LF acoustics on behalf of the objectors.
In summary, do you back the opinions of the EHO which are almost exclusively subjective with regard to the impact of the shooting noise referring to it variously as distant pops, like a burst of exploding fireworks, no worse than a human shouting or a car revving close by, OR will you rely on the assessment of noise readings by two qualified acoustics experts who agree that the CIEH guidelines are most relevant and on that basis there is a significant adverse impact created by the Pondground shooting?
Why were the public not allowed on the arranged site visits?
Do you feel the site is secure and will stop kids from entering?
Why did the police firing range not show up on anyone’s house searches when purchasing their houses?
Why have the police had a full day to talk to the committee and the community have only got three minutes?
How do you suppose I carry on running my Holiday Let business with the sound of firing going on all day long?
Why is this not been considered as a new application?
This concerns the firing range application. Is the committee fully aware that from 2012 to 2014 when permission was in place, the average number of bullets fired on site was14,665 per calendar year. From 2015 to 2021 after permission had lapsed, the average number of bullets rose to 51,726 per year. In the calendar year of 2021 the police’s own shooting records show that 113,730 bullets were fired. Therefore any condition that only specifies a number of days of use is not sufficient in mitigating the impact. For example, these same records show that in 2015 the Marines were on site for only 11 days and yet they managed to fire 47,900 bullets. Can the committee be fully satisfied that a mere restriction on the number of days would mitigate the harm?
Are the committee satisfied that the condition relating to security fencing would meet the tests as such a fence would potentially be greater than permitted development rights and would require consultation upon.
Are the committee fully informed of their duty to take the best interests of the children as a primary consideration? Have the officers undertaken the proper assessment of this important legal consideration?
In light of the advice received from Historic England and having listened to the recorded evidence of the shooting noise impact on the setting at Greenham Barton, listed Grade 1 and therefore of exceptional special interest, what course of action do the Committee propose to take, especially since the applicant has said it is not possible to take any measures reduce the noise levels?
Are the committee aware that the local planning authority granted permission for a tourism use next to the site during the period operating unlawfully and that paragraph 187 of the National planning policy framework states “existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established?” Are they fully aware that this would not include unlawful uses?
I am a resident and rate payer of the Cranmore ward and living on the canal a regular user of the same.
Are the committee aware of the importance of all weather training when carrying out the duties of a firearms officer, I myself used the range in question on its opening day 45 years ago?
Are the committee further aware that the weapons in use then were by design, as open chamber weapons louder than their modern closed chamber counterparts in continuance of the weapons use is the committee aware that during the early period of training it was a requirement to be ambidextrous having to draw aim and fire six rounds with the strong hand, reload with four rounds and use the weak hand in under 20 seconds this was followed be quiet periods of evaluation?
Are the committee aware of the need to preserve proficiency in both weapon use and split second decision making under conditions of stress created by the varying climate of outdoor use combined with indoor training. A fact I was grateful for when faced with that split second decision on a dark night many years ago?
Will the committee consider the impact of a controlled use environment of say 1000hrs to 1600hrs on three days a week at approved times of the year as opposed to a working quarry should the presented opportunity present itself?
The Chair advised that the questions would be answered during the application.