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‘Our homes are caked in dust’ - Community’s anger over pollution from haulage company

PUBLISHED: 11:33 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 16 June 2020

Rory J Holbrook rail siding site at Brandon train station. Photo: Rory J Holbrook Ltd

Rory J Holbrook rail siding site at Brandon train station. Photo: Rory J Holbrook Ltd

Rory J Holbrook Ltd

A community has told of its anger after a neighbouring aggregate site has left their homes and gardens “constantly caked in dust”.

Rory J Holbrook rail siding site at Brandon train station. Photo: Rory J Holbrook LtdRory J Holbrook rail siding site at Brandon train station. Photo: Rory J Holbrook Ltd

Families living at Redbrick Cottages and Station Terrace, located next to Brandon’s railway siding, have been involved in a three-year dispute with aggregate and haulage company Rory J Holbrook.

Holbrook moved onto the rail siding site, at Brandon Railway Station, in 2017 and since then nearby residents say they have faced a litany of problems.

Jennifer Smith, a mother-of-three, has lived at Redbrick Cottages for 10 years and has been at the forefront of the battle, speaking on behalf of all residents at various council meetings, including Brandon Town Council and Weeting Parish Council.

Their complaints include noise pollution and dust from the site covering their homes and gardens, which they say has been affecting their physical and emotional health.

Haulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer SmithHaulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer Smith

The primary school teacher said: “Our homes are constantly caked in dust. If you wipe a table outside, in an hour you can write the date in it.

“What our once idyllic cottages looked like compared to now is absolutely heartbreaking.

“There are three trains per week, 24 carriages, and a loading time of six or eight hours and it sounds like The War of the Worlds, it’s deafening.

“There are aggregate piles higher than our houses, no dust suppression and no regard for the impact it’s having on any of our lives.

Haulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer SmithHaulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer Smith

“Our most vulnerable residents, in their 90s, can no longer use their garden and many of us have been left needing inhalers or antihistamines for our breathing – including my son.”

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Ms Smith said she has sent five complaints to Network Rail, which owns the land Holbrook operates from, and has been rallying support from local councillors.

Mike Nairn, from Weeting Parish Council, attended a meeting at the start of the year where Rory Holbrook and residents came to discuss their issues.

Despite promises made by the company at the meeting, Mr Nairn said the situation has still not improved.

Haulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer SmithHaulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer Smith

Rory Holbrook has been contacted for comment several times but a spokesman said he was unavailable.

Mr Nairn said: “Residents at Redbrick quite honestly are justified in their anger and upset because of the dust coming off those heaps and their dust suppression methods aren’t great,” he said.

“I would like to see far more regulation regarding the operation of that site.”

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In a letter to Ms Smith, Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor, on March 27, said: “The planning services have instructed that a full investigation is made of the site, the findings of which will then be reported and considered accordingly.”

Fabian Eagle, Conservative candidate for The Brecks. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Fabian Eagle, Conservative candidate for The Brecks. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Norfolk county councillor, Fabian Eagle, has been another point of contact and support for Redbrick Cottages families.

He added: “Residents have been let down.

“Everyone else is benefiting from cleaner air and less pollution during lockdown but we have this community who have been blighted by dust.

“I would hope Holbrook would keep their promise from Weeting Parish Council meeting to engage and take more consideration for its neighbours.”

Haulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer SmithHaulage and aggregate company Rory J Holbrook operate from Brandon Station's rail siding. Residents at Redbrick Cottages have been complaining about the dust from the site. Photo: Jennifer Smith

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Ms Smith added: “It’s been a really anxious and stressful time and many of us have considered moving away. One family already has.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that after residents contacted us to express their concerns about the impact which the aggregate operations at Brandon Rail Sidings are having on their health and property, we are carrying out an investigation - in our capacity as the mineral and waste planning authority for Norfolk.

“As part of the investigation, we served a planning contravention notice on all relevant parties and in order to identify the best way to take the matter forward, the authority is now taking legal advice.

“We have also explained to residents that our role is restricted to planning matters and that concerns about health should be addressed to the Health and Safety Executive and the environmental health department at the district council.”

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