Monday, 4 May 2015

Quarrying in East Devon: Aggregate Industries' planning application for Straitgate Farm site

Aggregate Industries have been planning to open a new quarry near Ottery St Mary for three years:
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon: Aggregate Industries' latest proposals for Straitgate Farm site

The question raging between the players is whether this can be done 'sustainably':
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon: can it be done 'sustainably'?

The Straitgate Action Group has been very active in this question:
Straitgate Action Group: NPPF: "The planning system should play an active role in guiding development to sustainable solutions"
Straitgate Action Group: "HGVs make up approximately 5% of traffic flow and yet contribute more than 38% of the total NO2 emissions"
Straitgate Action Group: Air pollution impacting integrity of East Devon Pebblebed Heaths

And now Aggregate Industries has submitted its planning application:

FRIDAY, 1 MAY 2015

AI's planning application set in motion

Aggregate Industries has now given formal notice and details of its planning application to quarry Straitgate Farm to directly affected landowners. A public consultation period is expected in due course. We will post again when we have more information. DCC has yet to upload any details.

In the meantime, it will be Devon Minerals Local Plan 2004 that will provide the planning policy framework for assessing AI’s applications for quarrying and processing; DCC's new Minerals Plan has suffered repeated delays over a period of three years because of AI’s inability to demonstrate that quarrying Straitgate would be possible without unacceptable environmental harm.

Let's therefore look at some of the policies from the current Minerals Plan, with Straitgate Farm in mind.

First of all, and unlike Penslade at UffculmeStraitgate Farm is NOT in the Devon Minerals Local Plan - not as an Area of Mineral Resource, not as a Mineral Consultation Area. AI’s application is therefore not in line with any development plan. It could even be argued that the resource is not important enough to be identified or safeguarded by the County. Emerging policy, that looked to make Straitgate a Preferred Site, provoked such strong opposition from local people and statutory bodies alike that it should not be relied upon as having any weight. The NPPF says "Proposed development that accords with an up-to-date Local Plan should be approved, and proposed development that conflicts should be refused unless other material considerations indicate otherwise".[12]

MP 2 Proposals for mineral development within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beautywill not be permitted if they would conflict with the objective of preserving and enhancing its natural beauty. Proposals for mineral development which would harm the natural beauty, character and special qualities of a nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park will not be permitted.

MP 5 Proposals for mineral development which would conflict with the objective to preserve Listed Buildings and their settings will not be permitted.

MP 24 Proposals for aggregate mineral development at new mineral sites will not be permitted if the mineral is available: (a) at Mineral Working Areas; or, (b) as extensions to Mineral Working Areas; or, (c) as extensions to existing mineral sites. Where the mineral is unavailable at such locations, development will only be permitted if: (i) such proposals would contribute to the maintenance of the landbank identified in Policy MP 20; or, (ii) the proposal would result in a reduction of the distance aggregates are transported; or, (iii) the mineral to be worked has particular qualities which can not be met from secondary or recycled materials, or which would override the overall landbank issue; or, (iv) the proposal would reduce adverse environmental effects of existing mineral development at the Mineral Site (including the potential adverse environmental impacts of reopening inactive or dormant planning permissions); and, (v) there is no demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance, having regard to any proposed mitigation or compensatory factors. 
MP 43 Proposals for mineral development will not be permitted where the generation of heavy goods vehicle movements could not be satisfactorily accommodated on the existing local highway network and/or would cause demonstrable harm to noise sensitive properties in the vicinity of the route(s), unless appropriate highway improvements can be carried out which do not cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance. 
MP 44 Proposals for mineral development affecting the best and most versatile agricultural land (Grades 1, 2 and 3a) will not be permitted if: (i) there is land of lower agricultural quality available (providing that this does not harm features of landscape character, nature conservation or historic significance); and, (ii) in cases where an agricultural after-use is proposed, the land cannot be restored to its former, or if possible, improved condition. 
MP 52 Proposals for the importation of materials to a minerals extraction site where minerals processing takes place will be permitted where increased lorry movements to and from the site would not give rise to unacceptable impacts on the environment or on local communities and: (i) importing materials enhances the use that can be made of existing processing and/or manufacturing plant without creating excessive demands on storage capacity within the site; or, (ii) importing materials promotes the use of secondary minerals and of recycled aggregate. Conditions will be imposed to limit the duration of the permission to ensure that continued minerals processing on the site does not interfere with any programme for site restoration.
If AI’s proposal is judged acceptable against these policies, then quite frankly what is the point of a Minerals Local Plan, the Public Inquiry and all the associated expense entailed?

And if all this isn’t enough, let’s not forget Devon Minerals Core Strategy Options Consultation Paper February 2011:
5.1.4 For as long as adequate sand and gravel reserves (i.e. a minimum of seven years’ supply) continue to be present at the existing quarries, there are no grounds to allow their further extension or new quarries. However, when the remaining reserves at the existing quarries decline to the point where further resources need to be identified to maintain the county’s landbank of sand and gravel reserves, choices are available on where those new resources should be worked.

Straitgate Action Group: AI's planning application set in motion
Aggregate Industries submit planning application for a quarry at Straitgate Farm, Ottery - Claire Wright.

1 comment:

Lasting Power of Attorney Ipswich said...

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