Warrington Lib Dem News

Shock as Six/56 Public Inquiry adjourned

12 May 2023
Ian with the Local Plan

The Public Inquiry to consider the planning application for a massive logistics site next to Junction 20 of the M6 has been adjourned until October.

This was a result of a letter just received from Natural England, which queried whether the correct legal process had been carried out with respect to the effect of traffic on the Manchester Mosses alongside the M62. Natural England is the government body whose purpose is 'to help conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development'.

We were all shocked by this turn of events and cannot understand why the problem only emerged at such a late stage in the process. The Inquiry started on Monday but after about an hour and a half of preliminary proceedings, the Inspector suddenly announced to everyone's surprise, that the Inquiry would be adjourned on Tuesday because Planning Inspectors were on strike.

The law requires there to be a 30-day consultation to consider the issue to do with the Mosses, which had not been carried out. Due to diary commitments of participants, the first available date for a resumption of the Inquiry is likely to be 10th October. It is all rather surreal and suggests that mosses located just outside the Borough boundary have more influence than the people of South Warrington!

The Local Plan Inspectors were adamant that the land on which Six/56 would be built should not be released from the Green Belt, contrary to the Council's proposal in the draft Plan. The Council has reluctantly accepted this modification to enable the Local Plan to be declared as 'sound'.

Providing there is no change of mind from the Inspectors, it is likely that the Local Plan will be approved by the Council prior to the October re-start. Surely it would then be very difficult for such a major component in an approved Plan to be over-turned by the Inquiry Inspector with a recommendation that Six/56 goes ahead? Together with residents of South Warrington, I really hope this surprise development is a nail in the coffin for Six/56.

Statement from the consultant to South Warrington Parishes Planning Working Group:

The Public Inquiry into the 6/56 development has been adjourned - probably until October.

As some of you may recall the Local Plan Inquiry dealt with an issue raised by Natural England about the potential for an increase of traffic on the M62 to impact on the Manchester Mosses - an area on the northside of the motorway as it leaves Warrington and goes into Salford. The local plan side stepped the issue by expecting each area allocated for development to be considered as applications for planning permission were made.

Before the Inquiry the Inspector for 6/56 has asked for more information from Natural England about this issue. They replied yesterday saying that they required more information and a formal assessment of impact to be carried out - this is mostly about pollution from traffic affecting the mosses which are a protected natural area.

This requirement has to go through a process specified by various regulations. The Inspector concluded this morning that the Inquiry could not proceed until this process has been completed. The process is not quick but will require additional data to be provided by the applicant and consultation over revisions to the Environmental Statement hence the need for time for this to be carried out which when combined with commitments for those round the table pushed resumption to a possible October date.

This note has been prepared for members on SWP but please share for information with Parish Councils and other interested parties seeking to understand the reason for adjournment.

John Groves

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