Posted by: John Brace | 18th August 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Wirral Council planning officer decides greenbelt site for Saughall Massie Fire Station is not “environmentally sensitive”

EXCLUSIVE: Wirral Council planning officer decides greenbelt site for Saughall Massie Fire Station is not “environmentally sensitive”


Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station

The author of this piece is the Appellant in a First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) case where Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority is the Second Respondent.

The first decision on the Saughall Massie Fire Station planning application has been made by Wirral Council in relation to the screening opinion.

In a decision letter dated 17th August 2016, a Wirral Council planning officer has decided that despite the site bordering a conservation area and also (although it’s not mentioned in the decision letter) the fact the plans include fuel storage, that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required as the site is not considered “environmentally sensitive”.

This is despite Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 listing the following as one the factors that should make a site "environmentally sensitive" and therefore require an environmental impact assessment,

“6 Chemical industry (unless included in Schedule 1)

(c) Storage facilities for petroleum, petrochemical and chemical products.

(i) The area of any new building or structure exceeds 0.05 hectare; or
(ii) more than 200 tonnes of petroleum, petrochemical or chemical products is to be stored at any one time.”

The site plan clearly shows a fuel store (presumably for storing petrol and/or diesel for refuelling the fire engines.

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  1. It should read ‘Council officer told to say fire station site is not environmentally sensitive!

    • Obviously that would have nothing to do with the fact that Wirral Council owns the land this is about would it?

  2. Wirral council are continuing in changing the rules to suit their needs, is there anything we can do about this.

    • Apparently councillors’ powers only seem to extend to taking the decision out of officers’ hands when it’s a planning application and there’s no route for them to have the Planning Committee make decisions on screening opinions (probably because the legislation requires a decision within 3 weeks).

      So unless councillors change the scheme of delegation to officers (that is change Wirral Council’s constitution), screening opinions will continue to get decided by Council officers without the ability for councillors to have councillors decide on it instead.

  3. Well with any luck, the petrol will spill out in to the green belt area, and by a stroke of luck a fireball will shoot down from the sky causing said fuel to ignite and causing wide spead fire, fire trucks will be out on another job and as a money saving idear no other fire trucks are available to put said fire out.
    This will make the news and be shown around the world, the reply from Wirral Council, the person who passed this has now been sacked, [ we won’t tell you the figure we paid him to go, but it was a lot! ]

    • The plans show the fuel store next to the bin store, so if the fuel ignited, the rubbish would probably start burning too if it wasn’t put out quickly!

      If the fuel was being topped up (say a tanker was providing a delivery) there’s always room for human error and a spillage. However the fuel store is in the middle of the site so it would have to go a long way to get outside the 0.49 hectare site for the fire station.

      It’ll be councillors that “pass” (or don’t pass) the planning application who the public can sack at election time (if the councillors stand again).

      However yes, the screening opinion decision was done by a Wirral Council employee.

  4. Yet again, the document has been ‘currently unavailable’ for hours.
    Gwen, there has to be something we can do that doesn’t involve councillors?

  5. The fuel being stored will not be petrol but diesel which isn’t easily combustable. All Appliances and staff cars have diesel engines. MFRS gave WBC the land at the side of Birkenhead Fire Station for the new Kids Zone in exchange for land to build the new station in Saughall Massie / Greasby so the pressure us on to grant the planning application.

    • Although the former Deputy Chief Executive Kieran Timmins suggested to Wirral Council a “land swap” for the land that they wanted by Birkenhead Fire Station, Wirral Council deny that they agreed to any land swap.

      The land at Birkenhead Fire Station for the Youth Zone was transferred to Wirral Council not at a commercial rate, but at a nominal cost (by that I presume it means covering MFRA’s legal costs etc). Ultimately that decision was made by councillors on MFRA (which included three Wirral Council councillors) on the 17th September 2015, you can read the minutes and reports (apart from one) about that on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s website.

      The decision on the planning application for a fire station at Saughall Massie will be taken by the owner of the land Wirral Council by the councillors on Wirral Council’s Planning Committee.

  6. Smell the diesel, smell the Tarmac, smell the MONEY.

    • There have been further developments on this story in the last few days that I hope to blog about in the near future.