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Public Rights of Way around Lagoon 3
situation – May 2021 - from WSCC
The reason for the closure of the footpaths can be simply stated as a safeguarding measure to protect members of the public from the possibility of an noxious gas leaking from a nearby lagoon; or even the failure of the lagoon itself.
The starting point, which led to the closure of the paths, is the development of the lagoon without planning permission and its use in association with an unauthorised business at the farm. Formal enforcement action was taken in respect of both matters and the decision of the Council to take that action was upheld in the decision of the Planning Inspectorate. The appeal process focused on the operational development and the use being conducted on the land. It did not consider what waste and fluids may have been discharged to the lagoon.
Therefore, subsequent to the appeal process, officers from controlling authorities and those in control of the land began to realise that the operational requirements of removing the lagoon and its contents from the land may be more complex than first envisaged and that the whole process would take longer than that stated in the notices issued by the planning authority. In addition, monitoring of the site gave rise to concerns that the lagoon presented a potential environmental hazard which could be dangerous to persons in close proximity to it.
Until the site has been cleared to the satisfaction of the controlling authorities, namely the Council and the Environment Agency, it is considered inappropriate and irresponsible to open the footpath network which immediately adjoins the Site. For this reason, there is no plan to seek an alternative route and there is no obligation to make an alternative route available.
A recent multi-agency risk assessment concluded ‘no significant change’ to the situation regarding the lagoon and associated risk and therefore, with regret, the closures will remain in place until such time that the opening of the nearby Public Rights of Way is deemed safe.
West Sussex County Council has therefore extended the current closure and the Public Rights of Way will be considered at each subsequent risk assessment at the site. WSCC is not engaged in any of the technical matters relating to the safety of the lagoon at Crouchlands Farm and its enforcement, which is being led by Chichester District Council.
Notice Date: 02/06/2021