Letter to Editor: New River Stort Crossing: “Complaining and organising now….is a case of shutting stable door after horse has bolted”

General / Thu 17th Jun 2021 at 12:16pm

Dear Editor,

I’VE noticed that recently a lot of environmentalists, some  concerned Harlow residents and a few local politicians are wringing their hands and shouting loudly about the proposed new crossing of the River Stort which is all part of the new junction 7a work on the M11. 

I attended many of the public consultation meetings held by Essex Country Council prior to the work starting. It was clear that putting the junction south of the river (in Essex) was bound to create many problems with increased traffic crossing the river to join up the two parts of the A414. 

It seemed to me and many others present at those meetings, that putting the junction north of the River (in Hertfordshire) would have been cheaper, easier and would have caused far less environmental damage. When making this point at the meetings, it seemed obvious  that Essex County Council’s officers and councillors saw this as a pet project where they could get millions of pounds from the government and they were not going to let Hertfordshire have it, whatever the cost, financially or environmentally.  

Unfortunately I can’t remember many environmentalists organising against the proposal at the time or attending the meetings.

They were very poorly attended and I don’t recall any of Harlow’s political representatives (either District or County Council) attending either. 

I can’t help thinking that complaining and trying to organise against it now is a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. 

Yours sincerely 

Kevin Jones

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5 Comments for Letter to Editor: New River Stort Crossing: “Complaining and organising now….is a case of shutting stable door after horse has bolted”:

Emma Batrick
2021-06-17 12:42:55

I think it may be that unfortunately while Mr Jones knew about the crossing, a lot of other people didn’t. I’d be interested in how that consultation was promoted and held.

Michael Szpakowski
2021-06-17 12:49:07

This all might be true. One of the problems is that the consequences of the whole thing have been kept from the vast majority of people. I try very hard to keep informed and the full horror of the crossing was only brought home to me by the fantastic work of the Friends of Latton Island. Suggesting that there is nothing that can be done and characterising people’s quite legitimate disgust at the proposals as handwringing helps no one but the developers whose desire to make easy money underlies this whole farce. I encourage everyone to sign the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/we-oppose-the-central-and-eastern-river-crossing-for-harlow-and-gilston-town?source=rawlink&utm_medium=socialshare&utm_source=rawlink&share=d331432b-1cf7-4236-8a8d-9d1cf84a554c , to submit an objection ( details on the Friends of Latton Island FB group and @ourstort on Twitter & to join the lobbies and demonstrations against this vandalism for profit.

2021-06-17 12:58:26

The fact is, Councillors from both main political parties and the towns MP are in favour of an enlarged Harlow, dubbed Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, despite what some of them might say when canvassing on the doorstep. The Five Councils involved have done as little as legally possible in terms of consulting with residents, particularly those of us living in Harlow. Within the next 4 weeks Epping Forest D C will be publishing the final comments made by the Planning Inspector about it's plans to allow thousands of homes to be built to the south and west of Harlow. It has no legal obligation to inform Harlow residents of these findings despite the many consequences for us already living here. The Harlow Alliance Party have been the only Party objecting to these plans, we believe that the land surrounding Harlow is Harlow's Green Belt and it's future should have been decided in the Civic Offices in Harlow and not in Hertford and Epping. It is unfortunate that the electorate were not sufficiently aware of the consequences of these proposals and were happy to let the Conservatives sweep into power to join like minded Councillors in Epping DC, East Herts DC, Essex CC and Hertfordshire CC.

Edward Vine
2021-06-17 14:37:42

As other commentators have pointed out the consultations were inadequate and the application didn't actually incorporate or request an environmental impact assessment. I did attend a significant consultation event I'm the town and this issue was not made clear or raised. Searching the official councils websites one encounters significant difficulties because issues are hidden in mounds buried using obscure codes and reference numbers. All this is, the whole project has just been made irrelevant and out of date by the publication of the Climate Change Committee this week, no one Cllr or Council can ignore the fact that the whole Gilston estate development contravenes or fails to pass any of the tests identified there. Fortunately there is the opportunity to call a stop at the full East Herts Council planning meeting and to demand a reappraisal in the light of this substantial and authoritative report. Politicians and all Councils cannot plead ignorance. Also everyone seems to have missed the point that apart from resetting this project to be ultra green, should Harlow and Herts set conditions to guarantee this then in developing and building an ultra green development Harlow would become a uk lead in developing the technology, science and Engineering. We have the science park and Engineering and building skills here and thus going green would generate jobs and industry.

John Wake
2021-06-18 16:42:50

I put in an objection to the new River Stort crossing two years ago, and I await an invitation to the meeting of the East Herts planning committee to put my objections. From reading the planning application, it seems that a new crossing is planned to cope with the extra traffic generated by the construction of approximately ten thousand houses in the development known as Harlow North (and euphemistically named “the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town”). The assertion by Kevin Jones that the proposed new crossing is part of the new junction 7a work on the M11 appears unfounded. The proposed crossing is integral to the Harlow North development, to which I also put in an objection, and which is awaiting consideration by the planning committee.

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