Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Quarrying in East Devon >>> Ottery Town Council rejects Aggregate Industries' planning application >>> >>> >>> further reports

An application to develop a quarry near Ottery St Mary has been submitted:
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon >>> Aggregate Industries' planning application for Straitgate Farm site >>> consultation to 2nd July

The local council has objected:
Futures Forum: Quarrying in East Devon >>> Ottery Town Council rejects Aggregate Industries' planning application

There have been several reports in the local press:

OTTERY: Town council united against plans for quarry at Straitgate

Tuesday, 07 July 2015

‘APPALLING’ | Cllr Roger Giles, Cllr Claire Wright and chairman of the West Hill Residents Association Margaret Hall are among those concerned about plans for a quarry at Straitgate Farm

by Peter Hodges
 Email: peter@pemedia.co.uk

OTTERY councillors have united in opposition to controversial plans for a 100-acre quarry on the edge of the town. 

All members of the town council’s planning committee stood against the proposals, submitted by Aggregate Industries, which would lead to a large sand and gravel quarry being created at Straitgate Farm. 

Around 60 residents attended last week’s meeting, held in West Hill, near to the proposed site. Members of the public made a series of impassioned speeches outlining their opposition to the plans, which were described as “absolutely appalling”. 

AI’s proposals include starting development at Straitgate Farm, while extending the life of the nearby Blackhill Quarry until 2021 – a further five years from its expiration date. 

Residents have expressed concern about the potential for more than 200 lorry journeys a day between the two sites on the busy B3180 passing through West Hill. Other issues that were brought forward included the potential visual and noise impacts created by the project, and possible interference with planes landing and taking off from Exeter Airport. 

Dr Margaret Hall, chairman of the West Hill Residents Association, said: “One of our main concerns is over the transporting of material to and from Straitgate to Blackhill Quarry for processing, along the B3180 through West Hill. 
“We know from the current experience of lorries going from Marsh Broadmoor along the same route just how much noise and damage to the road and roadside verges there is, and the safety concerns with so many HGV movements.” Dr Hall also said that a risk of flooding to Ottery and potential damage to Woodbury Common were also factors in the association’s objection to the plans. 

Councillor Roger Giles, who proposed that the committee formally object to the application, said: “I was very pleased that there were so many excellent contributions from members of the public expressing their concerns. And I was extremely pleased that my Ottery St Mary Town Council colleagues recognised that there would be dreadful consequences for the local community if the absolutely appalling application were to be approved.” 

John Penny, Aggregate Industries estates manager for the South?West, said: “The proposal has been subject to a thorough environmental impact assessment which has examined the potential impacts on residential amenity, wildlife, landscape, transport, archaeology and the water environment.
The high qualty material, which is proposed to be worked at Straitgate Farm, would make a valuable contribution to Devon in being able to meet the needs of the county and avoid having to import minerals from further afield.” 

The application will be discussed by planning chiefs at East Devon District Council next Wednesday (July 15th).

AXMINSTER TODAY | NEWS | OTTERY: Town council united against plans for quarry at Straitgate | 2015

Resounding ‘no’ to ‘horrific’ quarry

16:02 06 July 2015

Eleanor Pipe eleanor.pipe@archant.co.uk 

Straitgate quarry plans aerial view

Ottery’s community has united in opposition to a proposed 100-acre quarry that has been slammed as ‘shocking’ and ‘detrimental to the town’.

It was standing room only at a town council planning meeting on Monday when residents turned out to voice their fears over proposals submitted by Aggregate Industries (AI).

The company’s application outlines plans for the extraction of sand and gravel at Straitgate Farm – something that civic leaders unanimously opposed.

Talks were held in the Narthex Church Hall, West Hill, to accommodate the high turnout.

There is also a second proposal for the continued processing of material at Blackhill Quarry, Woodbury, which has sparked serious concerns over the increase in large lorry movements between the sites each day.

Speaking at the meeting, resident Alan Burrows said he has lived in the area for 75 years and generations of his family have farmed at Straitgate. He said he is hugely concerned about the loss of agricultural land. “The visual impact will be shocking for the whole community and for visitors,” said Mr Burrows.

Brian Clifford, a resident of Willow View Park, Whimple, said: “If this is to proceed, there will be health problems for the many elderly people in the area.”

Another Willow View Park resident predicted the impact of the quarry would decrease the value of his property by at least 50 per cent.

Monica Mortimer, of Straitgate Action Group – set up to oppose the plans – outlined how a quarry on the town’s outskirts would have a detrimental impact on the town and discourage tourists from visiting the current beauty spot. She said: “AI’s gain will be Ottery’s loss.”

Speaking on behalf of the West Hill Residents’ Association, Dr Margaret Hall listed a host of objections, including a lack of need for the materials and a negative visual impact. On the proposed route between the two sites, she said: “There would be significant levels of air pollution from up to 200 HGV movements-per-day.”

Devon county councillor Claire Wright added that AI’s ‘cheeky application’ is contrary to the Devon Minerals Local Plan. Councillor Wright added: “The proposal to extend the life of Blackhill quarry for processing is contrary to local and national policy.”

Town councillor Jessica Bailey said: “I would like to pick up on the fact that it’s a particularly dangerous bit of road. I think it would be reckless to allow a planning application to be approved that would inevitably cause more accidents. I think it’s an horrific application and I’m very worried about what it would mean for West Hill and Ottery.”

Many town councillors also spoke out against the plans, with the impact on the Grade II listed Straitgate farmhouse, Grade I listed Cadhay House and environmental implications for the ancient Cadhay Bog all cited as concerns.

Cllr Roger Giles proposed the town council opposes the application - with all in agreement. He compiled a full list of the objections to be passed onto Devon County Council (DCC), which will decide on the plan.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire this week joined the wave of opposition. He submitted a letter to DCC requesting a meeting to discuss concerns about the application, which he says would have a ‘detrimental impact’ on his constituency.

Resounding ‘no’ to ‘horrific’ quarry - News - Sidmouth Herald

This is the submission from Cllr Claire Wright, whose ward includes the proposed site:

My objection to a 100 acre quarry at Straitgate Farm, Ottery

Friday, 03 July 2015 by Claire

If you wish to object, please email planning@devon.gov.uk with your reasons, asap.

Applications DCC/3774/2015 – Quarry development for the extraction of sand and gravel at Straitgate and processing at Blackhill quarry

Policy implications
The planning applications from Aggregate Industries to quarry at Straitgate Farm and process at Blackhill Quarry on Woodbury Common are contrary to planning policy for the following reasons:

- The application is contrary to the adopted minerals plan, which does not have Straitgate listed as a quarrying site. Although the adopted minerals plan is technically out of date, the secretary of state has instructed that existing policies are saved until replaced by the new minerals plan.

- Although the emerging minerals plan prefers Straitgate Farm as a site for quarrying, it has been demonstrated in 2012 that there is significant public opposition to this. The emerging minerals plan is not yet approved for public consultation.

- Devon County Council has instructed Aggregate Industries, in accordance with national and international guidance and EU legislation under the habitats regulations, to cease its processing operation at Blackhill Quarry by December 2016.

- Allowing processing at Blackhill Quarry to continue for a further five years would delay its restoration for at least five years, with adverse ecological implications, which would be contrary to local, national and international guidance.

- Blackhill Quarry is in a location designated an area outstanding natural beauty (aonb). Par 117 of the national planning policy framework (nppf) states that development should only take place in an aonb if it is in the public interest AND there are exceptional circumstances.

- Paragraph 119 of the nppf states that the presumption in favour of sustainable development DOES NOT APPLY where development requiring appropriate assessment under the birds or habitats directives is being considered, planned or determined.

EU legislation
- Paragraph 118 of the nppf states that proposed development on land within a site of special scientific interest should not normally be permitted. However, Blackhill quarry is in a special area of conservation and special protection area, providing vital habitat for rare birds such as the nightjar and dartford warbler. The scarce southern damselfly also thrives there.

Trees and hedgerows
- Dozens of veteran, possibly ancient deciduous trees are set to be felled to accommodate the quarry at Straitgate Farm. Over one mile of ancient hedgerow is set to be lost, resulting in a significant loss of habitat. Paragraph 118 of the nppf states that planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees, found outside ancient woodland.

- Lack of justification
Par 145 of the nppf states that councils must hold only a seven year sand and gravel landbank. Devon has 18 years worth of supply, with just over 8m tonnes in reserve. The demand for sand and gravel has declined steadily over many years with the introduction of the landfill and aggregates taxes, which means far more recycling than before. There is NO NEED to quarry at Straitgate Farm.

Major underground water course
Aggregate Industries now state that they will not quarry as far down as the water table. Although it should be noted that this was most certainly the original plan put forward in 2012 as a proposal for the emerging minerals plan.

Aggregate Industries tests have found that to quarry into the aquifer would be unacceptably environmentally damaging, as the major aquifer concerned feeds ancient woodland (wildwood perhaps dating back to the ice-age) at Cadhay Bog, in particular and also Cadhay Wood.

The revised plan to quarry less deeply, should still be of serious concern because the water table height varies and so the possibility of irreparably damaging the aquifer (recognised as vital by the Environment Agency as a major underground watercourse) remains a significant worry.

Up to 200 lorry movements a day would take place between Straitgate Farm and Blackhill Quarry, if the development was approved. This is considerably more AI related heavy goods traffic than currently travels the B3180 and there would a serious adverse impact on people living along the B3180 and travellers who already get stuck behind the existing quarry traffic. There are particular concerns about more articulated lorries crossing the junction at the Halfway House.

It is very important to note that there has been one death in the past five years at Tipton Cross on the B3180. Par 32 of the nppf states that where the transport impacts are severe, an application can be refused. I would argue that up to 200 articulated lorries a day travelling along this narrow road and the Halfway House junction, along with its accident history, can be described as severe.

Aviation safety
Exeter Airport has long raised concerns about the danger of birdstrike, resulting from birds gathering at the quarry ponds. This is an issue which must be given very serious consideration.

Economic impact
Stratigate Farm is currently a successful and working dairy and beef farm – and has been for probably centuries. Ripping up 100 acres of prime agricultural land for quarrying could mean that a farm business, perhaps many centuries old, could be destroyed, which would be bound to have a negative impact on the local economy with the ceasing of local trading with suppliers and buyers.

Listed building
Straitgate Farm is a grade II listed building. A quarry would have a significant adverse impact on the setting of the farmhouse, which would be left standing on an isolated plinth, if the application is approved. Par 134 of the nppf states that where a proposed development would lead to substantial harm or total loss of significance of a heritage asset, consent should be REFUSED unless it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.

Agricultural land
Straitgate Farm is on grade 3a land, which is classed as best and most versatile agricultural land in the nppf. Par 112 of the nppf states that local authorities should take into account the economic benefits of best and most versatile agricultural land. Where such development is deemed to be necessary, authorities should seek to use poorer quality land. The economic benefits of farmland remaining as it is, is clearly necessary for the future of Straitgate Farm.

Visual intrusion
A 100 acre quarry at Straitgate Farm would be clearly viewed from East Hill – an area of outstanding natural beauty. It would therefore, cause damage to the setting and character of Ottery St Mary.

There are overwhelming reasons to refuse this application. I trust that it will be.

My objection to a 100 acre quarry at Straitgate Farm, Ottery - Claire Wright

See also:
Standing room only at meeting to debate huge quarry - Claire Wright (April 2012)

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