New explosives storage site plans

Coun Norman Waller.
Coun Norman Waller.

Controversial plans for an explosives storage site are set to return to Harrogate Borough Council, more than a year after they were first rejected.

Commercial explosives company Brexco Limited lodged an application in May for the creation of an energetic material storage and distribution space at the site of the former Tockwith Airfield, south of Tockwith village.

It comes after a similar application by the company for a site at Great Ouseburn was rejected unanimously by councillors in February 2018, over concerns of the potential impact on local roads and the surrounding landscape.

The new application has already received dozens of objections from nearby residents, including from the area’s ward member, Coun Norman Waller (Cons, Marston Moor).

Coun Waller said he had concerns about the site, ranging from the required removal of 150m of hedgerow, to security fears that the business wouldn’t be staffed overnight, with remotely monitored CCTV instead relied upon to provide security.

Coun Waller said there was “little police cover at best” in the area, and that stores of unmanned materials could attract “people with any sort of criminal mind”.

“A site in an isolated rural location may bring unwanted attention of criminals,” he said.

In a submission to the council, he added that plans for sensor lighting, which could be tripped by local wildlife, would impact the rural setting and neighbouring agricultural properties.

A planning statement submitted on behalf of applicants Brexco stated the site would be used for the storage of detonators and materials commonly used in mining and “are only combustible if mixed with other materials before use”.

The report adds that following the rejection of the proposal last year, a private landowner approached the company about the possibility of applying for the site within the perimeter of the former Tockwith Airfield.

Reasons to support the new proposed area include its distance from residential settlements and a road network linking it directly with the A1, the statement says.

The site is also historically associated with the storage of combustible materials, the report also adds.

The report states that a nominated key holder has to be within 20 minutes’ drive of the storage facility for security reasons.

As the key holders will be based at either Brexco at Thorpe Park or at homes in York, there is a limited catchment area in which a new store can be located.