Monday, 19 June 2017

“We welcome birdwatchers to our quarry…”

... says an Aggregate Industries' quarry manager in Staffordshire. In fact, so long as they stop wandering off the footpaths, "we ask birdwatchers to share their sightings and any logs of the species found":
Aggregate Industries operate both quarries and have claimed that the sand and gravel produced from the quarries create perfect habitats for wildlife, especially birds.
At Straitgate Farm, on the other hand, AI would rather not draw your attention to the birds that would be attracted to the water and wet grasslands left in perpetuity from any sand and gravel quarrying - given that it’s directly - just 195m - beneath an international flight path.


Moreover, rather than any signs welcoming birdwatchers and encouraging them to "share their sightings", there would instead be an altogether less-friendly Wildlife Habitat Management Plan which could lead to the "culling of wildlife".

Of course, it's another one of those issues that DCC will have to add to the planning balance;

weighing up the positives of the scheme...  against the ever expanding list of negatives:


Monday, 12 June 2017

Just how many products can a mobile processing plant produce?


Aggregate Industries wants to take any material it wins from Straitgate to Hillhead to be processed - not with fixed plant, but with mobile plant similar to that above. In its Reg22 request, DCC wants to know:
It is understood that the mobile processing plant installed at Hillhead Quarry is incapable of maintaining the product range offered by the Blackhill Plant. If the resource at Straitgate and its potential product range is economically important then can the applicant explain why this proposal is not premature until such time as there is sufficient processing capacity to deliver the most efficient use of this diminishing resource? 8.4
Who wouldn't be surprised if AI came back with some riposte about the wonders of modern mobile processing plants, and about just how many products state-of-the-art equipment can now produce? Which is why this recent article, "Little Paxton Quarry brought back to life", is interesting. It tells how one of AI’s sand and gravel quarries in Cambridgeshire has lain dormant for the past six years, until modern mobile processing plant was brought in. It tells how:
Having been operational for eight months, the plant is currently processing up to 200 tonnes/h to produce +75mm, 75–40mm, 40–20mm, 20–10mm and 20–5mm products, as and when required, as well as soft and sharp sands.
In other words, AI’s modern plant in Cambridgeshire can produce not "14 different finished products" but six - which backs what AI has said about Straitgate all along, that "mobile processing plant would severely restrict the output and product range".

So, let’s get this straight: AI proposes to haul Straitgate material an unsustainable 23 miles - 2.5 HGV million miles in total - to a location that’s further away from its target market - adding another million HGV miles or so - to a mobile plant producing a restricted range of products, a plant that can’t make the best or most sustainable use of "this diminishing resource".

Surely this can’t be the same company that crows:


Surely this can’t be what Devon’s newly adopted Minerals Plan had in mind when it promised:


... a Plan that apparently "emphasises the need to conserve mineral resources for future generations", not squander "this diminishing resource" at the earliest opportunity.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Update

After DCC’s Reg22 Request and the Environment Agency’s objection, Aggregate Industries has spent the last month running around trying to address the multitude of issues that have been raised in the company's quest to destroy the ancient fields of an East Devon farm.

Readers can make up their own minds why Straitgate Farm, a relatively small site, should still be causing this multinational so much trouble after all these years. Perhaps, as we’ve said all along, the site should simply not be quarried.

Whatever the reason, AI has assured DCC that a response to its Reg22 Request and other matters will be produced by the end of this month, which will then be subject to yet another round of consultation. AI is working towards determination at the DMC meeting of 6 September. However, bear in mind that previous assurances AI has made on dates for Straitgate have rarely been met.

On the issue of water, and following a meeting last month between AI and the EA, the company will this week* embark on yet another round of borehole drilling and piezometer installation to monitor groundwater levels at additional locations. You might have thought that for this relatively small site, deciding where to put a few boreholes would have been a simple matter for AI’s experts - but apparently not. Six boreholes were drilled in 2012. Less than a year later, it was decided that a further five were needed. Amec, AI’s consultants, then helpfully highlighted that there was "no piezometer in the centre of the site" and another two were then installed last year. And this week, contractors will drill and install another five piezometers, this time "around the N/NW perimeter of the site." Three existing piezometers will also be replaced. If AI had simply assured the EA that it would leave the typical 1m unquarried buffer above the maximum water table, it surely wouldn’t be in this mess.


On the issue of ecology and mitigation planting, DCC’s planning and ecology officers met with AI at Straitgate last week. It’s likely that AI has been persuaded to modify the extraction area to reduce the amount of hedgerow lost; something we suggested in our response. Extra standoffs from trees and hedgerows for soil storage are also likely to be agreed. New dormouse and bat surveys are now underway in preparation for AI attempting to secure licences from Natural England.

On the issue of access, AI has apparently resurveyed Birdcage Lane and has produced new draft plans magically showing that two-way HGV traffic can enter and exit the Exeter Road junction within the existing confines of this tiny lane - without the need for third party land. It’s anybody’s guess quite how that’s been achieved.

On the issue of bovine movements across the B3174, AI was at Straitgate this week trying to work out how 150 displaced cows could cross the busy Exeter Road - without bridge, underpass or flashing warning lights - four times a day to new pasture - closing the road for around 20 minutes at a time.

This point alone makes the scheme unworkable. The Exeter Road is the main road into and out of Ottery St Mary. Apart from the obvious safety implications of vehicles, and aggregate HGVs, backing up towards the brow of a hill, AI will also need to explain to the ever growing population of Ottery St Mary why they should face such delays on their drive to and from work and school each day.

And all this to allow the company to truck sand and gravel 23 miles up the M5 for mobile processing.

If AI’s scheme didn’t look like a joke before, it certainly does now.


*Edit: Drilling now due to commence 12.6.17

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

DCC wants to know if AI’s seasonal working scheme has ever been tried before

The Devon Minerals Plan states that "any proposal [for Straitgate Farm] should include provision for alternative supply in the event of derogation of private water supplies resulting from mineral development"; indeed, it was a fact recognised in Amec’s water report.

However, as we mentioned in Amec’s water report has been whitewashed, and despite Aggregate Industries addressing this in the last application, the company has now fallen silent on the matter.

Full detail should be provided including proposals for either a bond or legal agreement dealing with this matter. 2.8
They have also asked that:
information should be provided on the provision of alternative water supplies to mitigate any unforeseen adverse effects of the quarrying operation on the hydrology of the downstream County Wildlife Sites at Cadhay Wood and Cadhay Bog. 2.8
It will be interesting to see what AI comes up with for that one; Cadhay Bog is shown in the photo below.

But DCC has raised another matter connected to this subject. It wants to know whether AI’s seasonal working scheme - the one that puts the drinking water supplies of 100 people at risk - has actually been tried before; whether, in fact, it should be considered “novel”:
The applicant is requested to provide information on other sites either in their control or operated by another company where the proposed working technique is used successfully. Reason: The MPA will wish to consider whether the proposed working technique is a “novel approach” as set out in the NPPF Paragraph: 048 Reference ID: 27-048-20140306 in respect of the requirements for guarantees on the amelioration of impacts on local water supplies should there be any technical failure. 8.5
For those reliant on the site for their private water, this is what Paragraph 48 says:
When is a financial guarantee justified?
A financial guarantee to cover restoration and aftercare costs will normally only be justified in exceptional cases. Such cases, include:
where a novel approach or technique is to be used, but the minerals planning authority considers it is justifiable to give permission for the development...

Another quarry company up to no good?

Wildlife police are probing claims that a protected birds’ nest was deliberately destroyed at a Perthshire quarry.
Concerned residents at Blackford raised the alarm after a known roost for rare sand martins disappeared near Milton of Panholes.
The nest is on land which is earmarked for a new quarrying operation.
It is illegal to destroy, damage, take, obstruct or interfere with any wild bird nest while it is being built or in use. The penalties can be up to a maximum £5,000 fine and/or six months’ jail.
RSPB Scotland has also raised concerns to planning officers that there was no mention of the sand martin colony in paperwork submitted to the local authority.
Photo evidence of the birds’ nest has been passed to officers.
It wouldn't be the first time that sand martins have been harmed at quarry sites:

In 2006, the owner of another quarry in Perthshire was fined £400 for killing up to 40 young sand martins after bulldozing their colony.

In 2005, a quarry company was fined £3,000 after pleading guilty to the destruction of 20 sand martin nests at a quarry in Cumbria.

In 2003, an assistant quarry manager was fined £6,000 for deliberately destroying 30 sand martin nests at a quarry near Hereford.

Friday, 26 May 2017

“Building firms need to start treating diesel emissions in the same way as asbestos”

Poor air quality, with diesel the biggest culprit, is now thought to be the cause of 40,000 deaths in the UK each year.
But while cars and lorries have attracted most attention, less reported is the contribution of other polluters to the problem, particularly construction sites.
According to the most detailed air-quality study in the UK, the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, construction sites are responsible for approximately 7.5% of damaging nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, 8% of large particle emissions (PM10) and 14.5% of emissions of the most dangerous fine particles (PM2.5).
While a small amount of this (about 1%) is dust from site activities like demolition, the vast majority comes from the thousands of diesel diggers, generators and other machines operating on sites.
Yet this machinery is not held to the same emissions standards as on-road vehicles. What’s more, its proportionate impact will only get higher as on-road emissions drop, according to Daniel Marsh, King’s College London academic and project manager for the London Low Emission Construction Partnership.
So what are the chances the industry can improve?
Given the construction industry’s questionable history with asbestos, which wasn’t regulated until 1983 or completely banned until 1999 – almost 40 years after the cancer link was proven – some are sceptical. In 2005, the Health and Safety Executive found that each year more than 230 construction workers die from cancers caused by exposure to diesel fumes, a figure it hasn’t since updated, even though more is now known about diesel’s noxious effects.
Increased awareness within the industry itself may help. At least one online community for UK builders warns “Construction firms to be sued over diesel cancer!”:
The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health stated: “in Britain, over 650 people a year die of lung or bladder cancer as a result of being exposed to diesel exhaust fumes at work. About 800 new cases of cancer linked to diesel exhaust exposure are registered each year.”

“Child Labour in the Supply Chain of LafargeHolcim in Uganda: Unresolved Issues”

More revelations about the company that would ultimately benefit from any quarrying at Straitgate Farm.

The results of an investigation into child labour in the supply chain of Hima Cement Limited, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim in Uganda, have been released. This is the press release:
For more than 10 years, LafargeHolcim and its suppliers benefitted from child labour among artisanal miners who supplied raw materials (specifically pozzolana, a volcanic rock) to the company in Uganda. Following a public scandal, including the publication of an article in the newspaper Le Monde in April 2016, LafargeHolcim stopped buying with artisanal miners and decided to work only with mechanised mines. Twerwaneho Listeners’ Club (TLC), based in Fort Portal (Uganda) partnered with Bread for All (BFA), based in Bern (Switzerland), to carry out an investigation following this scandal.
Their full report can be found here.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Devon sand and gravel sales down 14% in 2016

Whilst sand and gravel sales across the UK were up 2% in 2016 (see below), in Devon they were down 14% - from 542,000 tonnes in 2015 to 467,000 tonnes in 2016.

According to DCC, Devon's sand and gravel reserves (material already with permission to be extracted) stood at 7.04 million tonnes at the end of 2016. This provides a landbank of 13.4 years, using the 10 year average sales figure of 527,000 tonnes. The newly adopted Devon Minerals Plan runs a further 17 years until 2033. There is now therefore a potential shortfall of only (17 x 0.527) - 7.04 = 1.9 million tonnes.

Two Preferred Areas for sand and gravel are allocated in the Minerals Plan. Straitgate is identified as having up to 1.2 million tonnes - if no unquarried buffer is maintained above the maximum water table to protect water supplies; Penslade is identified as having up to 8 million tonnes. Both sites are owned by Aggregate Industries. The Regulation 22 Request for Straitgate Farm asks:
Can the applicant inform the MPA regarding the likely timescale for developing the Penslade resource? 8.3

Sand and gravel sales across the UK continue to flatline

According to the Mineral Products Association, sales of sand and gravel continue to be at levels little higher than during the recession.

Whilst there may be no shortage of sand in Devon...

... elsewhere in the world it’s a different story, reports The Economist:
A “sand mafia” in India intimidates locals in order to extract and transport the material. In Morocco and the Caribbean, thieves are stripping beaches bare. Even though fully accounting for illegally mined sand is not possible, sand is easily the most mined material in the world. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), sand and gravel account for up to 85% of everything mined globally each year.
But why is there a shortage, when sand seems so abundant? Desert sand is too smooth, and so cannot be used for most commercial purposes. In any case, the proximity of sand to construction sites is generally important too: because sand is relatively cheap, it tends to be uneconomical to transport across long distances… existing deposits are being mined more quickly than they can be naturally replenished, which is damaging the environment. Dredging causes pollution and harms local biodiversity. Thinning coastlines affect beaches’ capacity to absorb stormy weather.
Fortunately, there are substitutes for sand: asphalt and concrete can be recycled, houses can be built with straw and wood, and mud can be used for reclamation. In rich countries, government policy will encourage a shift towards such substitutes. According to Britain’s Mineral Products Association, for example, nearly a third of all housing material used in Britain in 2014 was recycled.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

“Reduce emissions!”

Exclaims a tweet - from the company planning a 2.5 million mile emissions belching HGV haulage scheme across Devon.

Besides wondering how a passenger train can transport aggregates or ready mix concrete - and help Aggregate Industries “Reduce emissions!” - you have to question the environmental merits of any transport plan coming from a company that thinks it’s a good idea to use mobile sand and gravel processing plant 23 miles away from a quarry face for 10-12 years; a scheme that could cause the same road damage as 17 billion car movements.


To “Reduce emissions!”, processing plants should be as close to the quarry face as possible - using internal haul roads, not public roads. If AI’s forgotten, this is what a haul road looks like.

“Funding a terrorist organization can never be treated as a cost of doing business”

LafargeHolcim, the parent company of Aggregate Industries, continues to be the subject of the world's press following the resignation of its CEO and the funding of terrorists in Syria:

LafargeHolcim’s troubles do not end there. The company has also attracted criticism from Emmanuel Macron, one of the two candidates in the second round of the election, and from other French politicians for saying it was ready to supply cement for Donald Trump’s planned wall along America’s border with Mexico. The giant firm’s market value is stuck at 15% below its level in July 2015, when it began trading, as it struggles to cut costs and generate earnings. The company doubtless hopes that Mr Olsen’s resignation will help to put at least one of its headaches behind it.
Meanwhile, The New York Times warned that:
President Trump or anyone else considering doing business with the company should bear in mind the words of Jeffrey Taylor, a United States attorney in 2007 when Chiquita Brands International pleaded guilty to making payments to a terrorist organization in Colombia. “Funding a terrorist organization,” he said, “can never be treated as a cost of doing business.”

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Just in case the next Prime Minister doesn’t know what to do…

... the Mineral Products Association has highlighted its priorities for the next government.

What a relief to know that in these difficult times - with Brexit, Trump, North Korea, and the need for strong and stable leadership, etc, etc - "the MPA has outlined 6 main priorities, which it believes will help Government deliver continuing prosperity for the UK". Because, yes, deep down, we all know that what the country really needs - to be able to move forward in times such as these - is:
reforming ‘Red Tape’ by improving the operation of the mineral planning system and environmental permitting.
Yes, if only people didn’t scrutinise mineral planning applications so keenly - see post below - the world would be so much better; not for the environment of course, but for the profits of the international conglomerates the MPA represents.

The chief executive of the MPA promises that:
The industry is ready to play its part and has also set out priorities for the sector to ensure future demand is met more sustainably.
Of course, when he says "more sustainably", he's ignoring one MPA member’s cunning plan to haul sand and gravel 2.5 million miles back and forth between Ottery and Uffculme.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

AI’s planning application is in a mess

That much is clear from DCC’s Regulation 22 Request, issued today.

Aggregate Industries' Environmental Statement had crowed:
Save for the access point, the scheme now applied for is very similar to the 2015 scheme and having been through detailed consultation with the first application, the Applicant is extremely confident that it understands and has adequately covered all the likely significant effects of the proposed development. ES Ch1 6.13
But AI's confidence was misplaced. Its application to quarry Straitgate Farm is in a mess. The company has clearly not understood or adequately covered all the likely significant effects.

Following on from the EA’s objection and the LLFA’s objection, DCC has now served the company with a Regulation 22 request for further information on 61 substantive points - ranging from bovine movements to "novel" working techniques. The number of points is quite remarkable when you consider that this is AI’s second attempt at the site, and when you consider just how many years the company has been running around trying to make this work.

Readers may remember that back in July 2015, at the same stage of the last application, a similarly long list of requests was issued. Several months later, the company was forced to pull the application.

As far as DCC is concerned, this request now 'stops the clock' on the current application until such time as the relevant information is supplied. Here are just a couple of the things that DCC wants to know:

On Transportation of material:
8.1 It is noted that current ES does not provide the information on comparative transportation distances and CO2 emissions, and the applicant is requested to explain why the previous view on the unsustainability of Hillhead Quarry as a location for processing materials from Straitgate Farm appears to have changed. Reason: Policy M12 establishes the principle of extraction at Straitgate Farm, but one of the key requirements of supporting Appendix C is that “transportation of extracted materials for processing elsewhere should meet the requirements of Objective 1 and Policy M22 for minimal transportation by road” [Objective 1 also seeks to minimise generation of greenhouse gases].
On Alternatives:
8.4 It is understood that the mobile processing plant installed at Hillhead Quarry is incapable of maintaining the product range offered by the Blackhill Plant. If the resource at Straitgate and its potential product range is economically important then can the applicant explain why this proposal is not premature until such time as there is sufficient processing capacity to deliver the most efficient use of this diminishing resource?



DCC - in its role as Lead Local Flood Authority - also objects

At this stage, we object to this planning application because we do not believe that it satisfactorily conforms to Policy MP24 (Flooding) of Devon County Council's Minerals Plan (2011-2031) which states that proposals for mineral development must not lead to an increased risk of fluvial, surface water or groundwater flooding. The applicant will therefore be required to submit additional information in order to demonstrate that all aspects of the proposed surface water drainage management system have been considered.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

EA objects

The Environment Agency have objected to Aggregate Industries' application to quarry Straitgate Farm:
We object to the planning application, as submitted, because the applicant has not supplied adequate information to demonstrate that the risks posed to groundwater can be satisfactorily managed. We advise that this further information should be requested under Regulation 22 of the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations. Without this information we would recommend that planning permission should be refused on this basis in line with paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bovine movements

Aggregate Industries’ application to quarry Straitgate Farm may contain liberal amounts of bulls**t, but it says nothing about bovine movements.

In AI’s rush to get its hands on the sand and gravel, it has forgotten about the cows - the 180 dairy cows that would need to cross the B3174 Exeter Road four times each day to access replacement pasture if the company's plans went ahead. It’s something that should have been addressed in AI’s Transport Assessment; it’s no surprise - after this, this and this - that this document has been found inadequate again. As we said in our submission:
24. The applicant makes no allowance for continuation of farming at Straitgate, specifically how the dairy herd will continue to access pasture from fields either unworked, not in the applicant’s ownership, or south of the B3174. [211]
211. The applicant proposes restoration to BMV farmland.
212. In order that a viable and working farm at Straitgate is maintained to resume farming in a timely manner post extraction, and that valuable agricultural land is not lost from production, a number of issues need addressing:
213. How would the dairy herd continue to access pasture in fields either unworked or not in the applicant’s ownership on the north and east of the site? What new gateways and breaks in hedgerows would be needed?
214. With less pasture, the dairy herd would need access to more fields, available on the south side of the B3174. What safe provision would be provided for the dairy herd to cross this road four times a day?

AI has already had experience of cattle movements across this road. Here’s a scene from a few years ago when drilling equipment was moved off site. Obviously, 180 cows crossing four times a day and up to 200 HGVs extra a day would seriously impact the functioning of the main road into and out of Ottery.

The issue was raised with the company at the Public Exhibition in November. AI chose to ignore it. The matter has now been referred to DCC Highways.

EDDC’s landscape response recommends refusal

...the site helps to shape the setting of the East Devon AONB... the development would permanently alter the landform of a locally distinctive ridge... the proposals for how the site will be worked offer little mitigation for impacts on the long distance views from East Hill.
EDDC also points out that "topsoil should not be stored in mounds greater than 2m otherwise the chemical composition of the soil will alter". AI wants to store top soil in mounds 3m high; although, even at this height, the company has not allowed enough land to do this, as back-of-the-envelope calculations for our submission show.

EDDC concludes:
Currently the submitted LVIA as part of the Environmental Statement does not sufficiently address... How the site helps to create the setting of the East Devon AONB [etc]... it is recommended that planning permission is refused.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

“LafargeHolcim CEO set to step down over Syria controversy”

LafargeHolcim’s chief executive is set to step down on Monday following an internal investigation into a plant the Swiss-French cement company operated in Syria until September 2014.
His expected exit, which was first reported by France’s Le Figaro, would be another blow for the cement company. Last year its chairman stepped down and the group is under pressure to deliver an ambitious integration programme in weak global markets following the 2015 merger.
Human rights groups in France have filed a lawsuit and have alleged that the company had “business relations” with militant group Isis and may have taken part in financing the group.
LafargeHolcim is the parent company of Aggregate Industries; its dealings in Syria have already been covered on this blog: Welcome to LafargeHolcim, This is the company that is looking to profit from Straitgate Farm and LafargeHolcim ‘in the cross-hairs of French presidential candidates’.

Friday, 21 April 2017

AI has decided to do another dormouse survey

Any hopes Aggregate Industries may have had to start ripping out the 2km of hedgerows at Straitgate Farm this year appear to have been dashed. Next week, some 200 dormouse nest tubes will go up around the site. The tubes will be checked for dormice at various points up until October or November.

All of AI’s wildlife surveys are now out of date - but, for now, the dormouse survey is the only one the company has plans to redo. Why would AI want to check for this European Protected Species again, when apparently it hasn’t yet been asked to by DCC or Natural England? It could be that AI knows it won’t secure a licence from Natural England with an out of date survey. Or it could be for another reason.

AI hasn’t done anywhere near enough timely tree planting for the displaced dormice to have anything worthwhile to move into; trees and hedges have been planted in the wrong place, and Exeter Airport also wants large chunks removed. How can AI get around this? It could simply do more planting, and wait for it to grow. Or it could try something else.

The last time AI was backed into a corner and performed an unscripted wildlife survey, it came up with a population of EPS - in that case GCNs - to prove why it couldn’t process material at Rockbeare. This time it will be hoping for the reverse. It will be hoping that the population of dormice has gone, or is certainly less than was discovered before. It will be hoping that the meagre planting that has already been done will be enough to support any population found.

The last population of dormice was found by consultants SLR in 2013. AI has asked a different contractor to do the job this time.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

AI’s traffic consultant “cannot” give a reason why...

... his traffic count for the B3174 Exeter Road - to support Aggregate Industries' application to quarry Straitgate Farm - bore no relation to reality.

Apparently in January 2016, Aggregate Industries' consultants performed a one week Automatic Traffic Count on the B3174 outside Little Straitgate. No one locally noticed it, which is surprising given the interest in the matter, given that many of us use that road every day, given that just two months previously various members of the public alerted us to an ATC just a short way further down the road.
So, are AI’s B3174 traffic count figures fictitious? We ask the question because we have the results of the ATC commissioned by Highways England, performed 13-26 November 2015. Their results bear NO relation to AI's numbers.
Readers may remember that AI’s DM Mason had previously tried to tell us:
The B3174 Exeter Road carries 4,272 vehicles per day [5-Day Av 24 hour flow] 9.11
But it was nonsense. In reality, Highways England had commissioned an ATC for this road a couple of months earlier that had counted 6,634 in week 1 and 6,936 in week 2.

AI’s consultant was subsequently asked by DCC to comment on this and a number of other issues. His response is here. On the subject of the count, he writes:
It is clear that the traffic count undertaken on my company’s behalf on the B3174 Exeter Road during January, 2016 may be considered somewhat anomalous. I cannot give a reason for this anomalous count. However, I am content to use the data from the two counts undertaken in November, 2016 [sic] for Highways England as the basis for calculating the impacts of the proposed development at Straitgate Farm.
So that’s ok then? Mr Mason is content to now use the real information provided by objectors, to replace his count, provided from where? Thin air? How many times in this debacle over Straitgate Farm has this now happened, that the correct information has had to come from objectors? 

It means that, for a planning application involving over 107,000 HGV movements, AI won't have even supplied their own accurate traffic count for the road that would be most affected.

Of course, almost 18 months on from Highways England's counts, the traffic on the B3174 may now be even higher. Who knows? Certainly not AI or DM Mason.

And then local people are meant to trust the conclusions from AI’s traffic consultant, when he says - for a development putting up to 200 HGV movements per day on Ottery’s busiest road:
This Transport Assessment concludes that the proposed development is acceptable in highway terms. 10.21
If it wasn't so serious, it would be laughable.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

What sort of company is Aggregate Industries…

... to plan to put mobile processing plant 23 miles away from the quarry face?
... to plan to do this for 10-12 years, for 1.5 million tonnes of material - 300,000 of which would be waste?
... to plan to have this plant further away from its target market - entailing another 1 million miles?
... to be planning what it's planning for Straitgate Farm, when there are headlines like this?


Employers have been told they are legally obliged to protect their staff from diesel fumes — and could be sued if workers develop cancer later in life. The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued the warnings because diesel fumes have been reclassified as a “grade 1 carcinogen”, meaning they are a “definite cause of cancer”. As many as 500,000 UK jobs are affected.

The cracks took a long time to appear, but when they did they splintered rapidly. In 2012 came the first major evidence of some truly dreadful health impacts. Nitrogen oxides and dioxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) pumped out by diesel exhausts were fingered as silent killers. The studies multiplied. The European Environment Agency found that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from diesel fumes had caused around 71,000 premature deaths across the continent in a single year. It said the UK experienced 11,940 annual premature deaths from NO2, the second highest in Europe behind Italy. The World Health Organisation declared diesel exhaust a carcinogenic, a cause of lung cancer in the same category as asbestos and mustard gas.

A diesel scrappage scheme would be part of a new strategy to improve air quality after Europe said UK proposals did not go far enough.

The effect on wellbeing of exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a gas mostly produced in diesel fumes, is comparable to the toll from losing a job, ending a relationship or the death of a partner, research suggests.

“We are force-feeding the natural world a diet of nutrient-rich junk food and it is having a devastating impact.”

An East Sussex authority has placed a moratorium on any new development within its boundaries that could generate additional traffic following concerns over the sensitivity of a special area of conservation (SAC) to nitrogen dioxide pollution from motor vehicles.

Humans must reduce net greenhouse gases emissions to zero “well before 2040” in order to ensure global warming does not go above 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, scientists have warned after carrying out a study using a sophisticated new computer model. The analysis suggests that efforts to prevent temperatures rising to potentially dangerous levels may have to rely heavily on “negative emissions” technology that is still in its infancy. Commenting on the study, Professor Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, said the “important” research spelled out the “enormous challenge” ahead.

Greenland ice is a great analogy for the Earth’s climate. It has inertia, meaning it acts slowly but once it gets going, it’s hard to stop. When the Greenland ice sheet starts to go, it may take a while to melt but it is nearly impossible to stop. Predicting how fast this melt will take is interesting from a scientific vantage point but there are also enormous social and economic consequences. Right now, 150 million people live within a meter (3 feet) of today’s sea level.

A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years...

Monday, 10 April 2017

LafargeHolcim ‘in the cross-hairs of French presidential candidates’


As the owner of Aggregate Industries, LafargeHolcim - and its billionaire shareholders - would be the ultimate beneficiary of any scheme that destroys an East Devon farm for sand and gravel.

LafargeHolcim has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. So much so, the City of Paris can no longer bring itself to buy the annual 3000 tonnes of sand from the French-Swiss cement conglomerate, to convert a stretch of bank along the Seine into a makeshift beach. The decision to drop the company was in keeping with "the ethical commitments that Parisians can expect from the city":
Last week, as Bloomberg reported in "How Trump's Wall and Hitler Ended Up in French Political Debate", the company was targeted in the French Presidential Debate. The debate's "winner", according to polls, advocated that:
"Accomplices should be punished" said [Jean-Luc Melenchon]. "I find it very strange that the case of Lafarge, a global cement producer which acknowledges having paid IS to continue producing its damned cement, hasn’t been mentioned. Well, this company should be seized by the state. We need to make an example of those who plot with the enemy."
Nathalie Arthaud said 'LafargeHolcim is an example of what’s wrong with capitalism':
"It built the Atlantic wall under Petain and Hitler," she said, referring to the defenses built by Nazi Germany along the coast of continental Europe during the second world war. "Now, we’ve all learned, it’s been doing business with IS, and now, it wants to build the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It’s clear that these large groups won’t be stopped by a change in regime or a new constitution... The only thing that counts for them is their cash..."
It's something more to bear in mind, whilst DCC decides whether to ignore Objective 1 of its shiny new Minerals Plan - the Plan that was a decade in the making, the Plan that apparently "All mineral development will need to comply with" - and embrace this company's plans to fill our local roads with trucks and 2.5 million miles of diesel pollution.


AI targeted by protesters

In a fortnight of action against the fracking supply chain, protestors have targeted Aggregate Industries' Carnforth quarry in Lancashire:


"We’re up here today because fracking isn’t a playground game. We need to give Aggregate Industries a reason to rethink its position, which is at odds with local democracy."
"Lancashire said no to fracking. We’re asking Aggregate Industries to do the decent thing. Follow the example of other companies in the area. Step away from fracking your neighbours and we’ll gladly come down."

In Colorado, AI “gave mining a bad name”

Quarrying brings concerns wherever it turns up. Promises are made. People are let down.

In Northern Colorado, a concrete company is trying to convince residents of the merits of a new sand and gravel quarry that - just as with Straitgate - is proposed to be worked over some 10-12 years.
Residents are worried about dust, increased traffic, noise and water impacts from the 123-acre site
And they’re reluctant to believe project organizer Loveland Ready-Mix’s promises to mitigate those impacts because they say gravel operations have burned their community before.
“These plans will say, ‘We’re going to use berms and plant vegetation and do all these things,’” said Terry Waters, a Laporte resident who was involved with previous gravel pit opposition efforts. “And they don’t do it.”
At a public meeting, the company representative faced an uphill battle:
“All we can do is try to educate people,” she said. “We don't want to come in and ruin your life and your business. That's not what we're about.”
Residents were "unswayed":
They say they’ve heard those mitigation strategies before -- from Aggregate Industries, a company that mined gravel at the Stegner property just west of North Taft Hill Road about a half-mile south of US 287. Despite complaints from neighbors, the operator performed noisy work on weekends, flooded basements and produced a lot of dust without watering...
Aggregate “gave mining a bad name”...