Mr Steve France, the Senior Planning Officer responsible for supporting the application was also invited but sadly declined to attend due to Council protocols which prohibited him from appearing.
An update was provided to attendees which included:
• the success we have had in engaging the local media with stories having now been published by the Journal, Sunderland Echo and the Northern Echo.
• a stop notice has been issued by Durham County Council Ensuring no further trees or shrubbery can be cut down by Par Petroleum on the proposed development site.
• Contact has been made by residents with a range of officials and teams including the Forestry Commission, Civil Contingencies Unit and the Councils Overview and Scrutiny Committee. ConocoPhillips, the suppliers of fuels to Par Petroleum have also been contacted by a number of concerned residents.
• A Town Planner has been commissioned by both Andrew and Marc to challenge and dispute the statements made in the application as well as argue our case as to why the green belt should not be developed. We have hired this professional to write an objection on our behalf as well as represent us at the Planning Committee when the application will be discussed.
Both Councillor Willis and Parish Councillor Guy Starkey also stressed the need for people to object individually and to raise as many issues within their objections as possible. Each adult living in the household can also object by tomorrow, 15th May. Along with health and safety and developing the green belt, it was suggested by people that increased traffic, unsuitability of the local roads for HGV's, not enough screening of the site, increased light pollution and dangers of disrupting the land fill site could all be used in objections.
The group agreed that as many people as possible would also write to all members of the Planning Committee stating their objections so these Councillors are fully made aware of the real local strength of feelings about the application which will hopefully influence their decision. We will put a list of the relevant Councillors on the website tomorrow along with their contact addresses as this can be done after the 15th May.
Several people also said that they would be happy to share their objection letter with us by e-mail so it could go on to the website to highlight the numbers of people who object; if you are happy to do so then forward them to us at email@example.com and we will put them on the site. However in your e- mail please explicitly state you are happy to for us to post it as we won't post it otherwise.
Finally an issue which we didn't and were not going to bring up; but several people kept raising the issue - finance. Both Andrew and I have incurred some costs in developing the campaign, as well as hiring legal support. We were not looking for financial reward but people said they were more than happy to contribute for which we are grateful. We will therefore post the detail of spend so far as well as any future costs and will explore the most effective and easiest way in which people can contribute.
Thanks for your support - we will continue to update the blog as soon as we have any further information. Don't forget to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org