Annual Report 2007.
This is the 43rd annual report of the Association.
The Association has again been very active on behalf of its members.
The Web Site
The Web Site is continuing to play its part in the Association’s affairs. Not only does it enable the Executive Committee to inform members of actions it is taking on members behalf, but it also is able to draw to the attention of the membership matters of which they may not be aware, and which they may as individuals wish to take some action in a private capacity. Please therefore continue to log on to site at www.colnestour.org at regular intervals so as to keep abreast of events. This can only make the Association more effective, as the more people who write to the relevant Authorities on any issue can only result in a stronger case being made and a greater chance of a satisfactory outcome.
Mark Dawson puts a great deal of effort in to the web site and we owe him a big debt of gratitude for all his hard work. As always, if any of you have any suggestions or ideas to improve the web site please let Mark know.
The Expansion of Stansted Airport and Increasing Aircraft Noise
At the time of writing this report, we are still awaiting the decision from the Ministers of Transport and the Environment on the application by BAA to increase the number of passengers and flights using the existing runway. The Association submitted its views to the Inspector in writing and also made a verbal submission to the Inspector when he held a session of the Inquiry at Sudbury on September 4th last year. The Inspector, as one would expect, listened courteously to the views of all parties, including those of the Association, and there are currently some grounds for thinking that he may recommend upholding the decision by Uttlesford Council to reject the application but, with this Government, it never pays to count one’s chickens. However on a more optimistic note, it does seem from statements made, by some ministers, that they are coming round to the view
that an extra runway at Heathrow is preferable to a second runway at Stansted, but experience has taught us that it is unwise to take anything at face value at this stage. We still have a long way to go on this matter and we shall continue to support, (and work closely with) the “Stop Stansted Expansion” organisation.
The National Air Traffic Service (NATS) hope to finalise soon their plans for the airways and stacking areas for Stansted and Luton Airports which will, of course, have a major impact on which areas of our countryside will suffer the nuisance of aircraft noise in the future. They have indicated that they may be ready to enter into a consultation phase by March, in which case we shall have more information for members by the time of the AGM in April. Also please watch the website for further information.
The Association is still awaiting the next application for the development of The Horkesley Park and Heritage and Conservation Centre at Bunting’s Farm, Great Horkesley, to which the Association and other organisations had strong objections in the past. As reported at the AGM last year, the Buntings have been going through what they call a “consultation process” with probably the aim of softening up the opposition. It does not seem that many of the original objectors have changed their minds.
The Association has been active on behalf of a number of members and Parish councils in the cases of individual planning applications. In some cases our intervention along with others has been successful; in others we have been disappointed. Unfortunately, I as Chairman have often been notified rather late in the day, which may well limit and restrict the influence the Association can have on any planning decision. It is important that the Association is notified as soon as is possible after a planning application is made if it is thought that the application is detrimental to the countryside. This is so important now that central government is putting such huge pressure on local councils to find room for more and more houses.
The Sluice Gates on the Rivers
As I verbally reported at last year’s AGM, the Environment Agency has gone ahead with their
programme of installing new sluice gates. It would
appear that action by the Association, particularly in bringing all the sluice gate owners together, has had a most beneficial effect. It would seem that relations between the Agency, and the owners, is now much more harmonious. At the time of writing, four gates have been installed at various sites on the Stour between Nayland and Clare. Each gate has been individually designed and engineered to fit its own location. I think it fair to say that the four sites selected are those where it has been relatively easy to install the new gates. There are some sites where the existing gate and sluice are in very poor condition, and one can only hope that the Agency will not decide to walk away from these because of reasons of expense. We need to remain vigilant.
We were very grateful to Mr and Mrs Geoffrey Probert for allowing us to visit their beautiful Elizabethan House, Bevills, near Bures. Despite the weather being rather inclement a large number of members were able to enjoy the beautiful garden, and the rain towards the end of the evening did nothing to dampen our spirits.
The membership continues to grow, but as I have
intimated in my letter to members at the front of this newsletter, because of the age profile of the Association, it almost loses in a year, as many as it gains. The Association currently has a total membership of 577 made up 351 life members and 226 annual. This compares with a total membership of 565 the previous year.
Last year to encourage you all to recruit new members the committee decided to offer a prize of a magnum of champagne to the member, excluding the committee, who introduced the most new members. The above figures speak for themselves and as most of the few new members were in fact introduced by committee members, it is clear that the offer was not an effective incentive and not surprisingly the committee has decided not to award the prize.
WE MUST INCREASE THE MEMBERSHIP TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE.
Therefore enclosed with this newsletter is the same sheet as last year, setting out the aims of the Association, the need for new members, and how this can help the Association achieve its objectives. On the reverse side is a membership application form. Further forms and sheets can be downloaded from the website or obtained from Michael Goodbody. Please liaise with Michael so as to ensure that a banker’s order is completed for annual members or a cheque can be accepted for those becoming Life Members.
I would like to thank all members of the Executive
Committee for their work, help, and support not only for the last year but also for the three years that I have been Chairman. During these three years Jeremy Hill has been persuaded to continue writing his excellent articles for this Newsletter; Michael Goodbody has brought our membership records into perfect order, and has always ensured that they are up to date, and that our finances are in good order. Mark Dawson has not only created the website, but he is responsible for keeping it up to date. Finally, but by no means least, my thanks go to our invaluable secretary, Ros Henderson, for her considerable assistance to me personally.