At the end of a very hot day this week, the VVSM community action-group held its annual general meeting 2012 before the local public.
The doors in the Draycott Community Church hall were left open to let a cool breeze in…
Standing before an audience of nearly two dozen people, VVSM representatives – Shelagh Wood, Jacquie Leach and David Phillips – explained that it had been a good (if expensive year) year for the group.
As you may know, VVSM originally formed to fight plans for a power-station in Cresswell, and was successful. A red-letter day for them was 20th May 2011, when the Dept of Energy & Climate Change said: “Blythe Park Power has withdrawn its application for the Secretary of State’s consent, under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989, to construct a 950MW CCGT power station at Blythe Business Park in Cresswell; the department has now closed the application and no further action will be taken.”
So you might think that now the power-station campaign is over, there is no role for VVSM – but in fact it has had a busy year. This is because VVSM now sees itself more as a sort of residents’ association for the area of Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow, and it is now looking at a very broad range of issues.
The big success for the group was clearly the publication of the new Cresswell Flooding Report, which came out in late March.
Commissioning and paying for the report – which cost £8,750 – had drained the group’s funds, but the new research did prove a point. It stated that Cresswell did after all have a potential flooding problem; and this fact meant that any idea to bring back the power-station plan in the future would now be unlikely.
For the details on this story see The Flood Report Story.
David Phillips pointed out that this effort had left the group with just under £2000 in the bank, and he called for more volunteers to work in the group.
No matter how little or how infrequently, whatever help (from research to licking stamps!) would be gratefully received, he said.
New ideas and outlook were needed too; the group wants, for example, to start to work with wildlife conservationists to protect this area’s rural heritage.
If you think you can contribute with ideas, just phone on 01782 388077, or just email VVSM.
In her presentation, leading VVSM member Jacquie Leach pointed out a number of issues on the horizon.
The Staffordshire Moorlands District Council ‘Core Strategy’ is issued in September, but it’s known already that SMDC would support a controlled expansion of the Blythe Industrial Park.
Does this indicate, said Jacquie, that the park was thinking of expanding onto the field by the Cresswell lay-by? She said VVSM would watch developments.
Shelagh Wood added that a lot of VVSM’s future work would surely lie in monitoring planning applications that affect Draycott in the Moors.
She said that she had learnt that an application to put up an industrial building in Cresswell Old Lane, which had been refused, was now back on the agenda, after an appeal was recently put in. It was that sort of thing that the group was keeping an eye on.
But – like any community group – VVSM has to have funds. Representatives appealed for volunteers to come forward to help them to put on new fund-raising activities.
If you think you can help, just email VVSM.
The story of the Flood Report
VVSM, the local campaigning group, raised nearly ten thousand pounds in order to be able to order an independent report into the problems of Cresswell’s flooding.
The report they ordered was completed in late March 2012 and is now published.
The funds to pay for it were raised through generous donations and a village lottery, among other ideas (though the lottery venture has now come to an end).
As you may know, a company called Blythe Park Power (BPP) wanted to build a £400 million gas-fired power plant plant near the Blythe Business Park. The complex would have been able to generate enough electricity to service nearly two million homes.
The VVSM group was concerned that a previous report (commissioned by the developers which wished to put industrial buildings on to a site near Blythe Industrial Park), was not as accurate as it might be when it claimed that Cresswell was NOT in a flood-plain.
Older local residents remember particularly the flooding in 1987 when gardens in Sandon Road were under water.
This new report (carried out by environmental experts RPS), stressed a different version of Cresswell’s situation – saying that the village was, in fact, likely to flood even more in the future.
Now, you might think that this is bad news – except that it means the Environment Agency (which has accepted RPS’s new report) is less likely now to allow industrial development in the future.
VVSM say they thus feel entirely justified that they have done the right thing in funding the new report.
VVSM will send out a copy of the report to anyone who wants to see it, though they would like a donation in return to help pay for its research and copying costs. (We estimate £3 might be a decent sum).
However, if you do order a copy of VVSM’s report, you’ll notice that it does not mention the field between the Cresswell lay-by and the industrial park. To have researched this area too would have meant even more cost… so, at some point in the future, there may have to be more research looking into the situation on that field.
However, as one member of the group said, it does seem crazy that – in order simply to get at the truth – local residents have had to scrimp and save to raise the necessary funds for the report. VVSM is urging everyone who thinks the same way to write to our MP Bill Cash and tell him too how apparently unfair the system seems to be.