WINCHESTER'S former civic chief has said the public was put at risk by use of a track near a Hampshire farm that did not have planning permission.

A planning committee has now granted retrospective permission for the access track on Hunton Down Lane, Sutton Scotney, after reinforcement works took place.

Cllr Caroline Horrill, who led the city council until just a few weeks ago, made the claim while addressing the committee as the ward councillor.

Cllr Horrill said: "The last time we discussed this case we raised the issue of the gas pipeline impacted by the road and we now understand the applicant had not consulted the owner of the gas pipeline and that surveys had to be conducted to assess whether there was likely to be damage in the future.

"The outcome was that there was significant risk and that remedial works have had to be undertaken and these are now confirmed as being satisfactory by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

"I find this very disturbing that the applicant approached the project in this way and that there was significant risk to the public."

The risk the pipeline was confirmed by its owner Humbly Grove Energy. Managing Director Arthur Moors told planners in a letter: "The reported HGV movements across these points would likely compromise the safety of our pipeline."

Turning to safety issues above ground, Cllr Horrill added: "The increased vehicular use of the byway, especially in the absence of any passing bays, is likely to cause safety issues, hence I am sure you can understand that the objections raised by the residents, walkers, cyclists, ramblers and the horse society are well founded."

In a planning statement accompanying the plans, agent Andrew Klemz said: "The farm has always struggled with access for large machinery and heavy goods vehicles... All HGV farm traffic had to come through Sutton Scotney, Wonston, Stoke Charity and Weston Colley to get to the farm.

"By extending the existing road to Hunton lane, all harvest can [be] hauled easily onto Hunton Lane and connect to the existing road network to the north."

The retrospective plans were approved by eight votes to none, with one abstention.


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