Friday, 20 October 2017

AI objects to development in its backyard

The adverse environmental impact of a concrete products factory prevented a farm barn in Devon from being converted into a dwelling under Class Q of Schedule 2 of Part 3 of the GPDO 2015.
The factory had no restriction on its hours of operation or the noise levels emitted an inspector noted. Despite the appellant’s noise survey suggesting that acceptable indoor noise levels that would be experienced at day and night. Nonetheless, it was not clear whether the factory had been operating at night when the readings were taken and it was conceivable that at periods of high demand, the factory would operate 24 hours. The inspector decided that allowing the appeal might lead to pressure from future occupants to try and curtail operating hours at the factory which would in turn adversely affect the contribution it made to the local economy. It was therefore undesirable to allow the barn to be converted.
The article related to application 16/01343/PNCOU, received by MDDC on the 5 September 2016, to convert a farm barn NGR 307104 113338 to residential use. The barn is next to the area used to store concrete blocks at AI’s plant at Uffculme.

It would seem that AI didn’t get wind of the application until November 2016, by which time consultation expiry dates had passed. Even so, on 17 November AI wrote:
Aggregate Industries wish to object to the proposed development as we have serious concerns that should planning permission be granted it would introduce an unnecessary constraint on our business by placing a likely complainant within an industrial setting and thus prejudice our permitted site operations.
The proposed dwelling was clearly outside any industrial setting, and you might have hoped that planning conditions and good working practices would have precluded any complainants

I was only made aware of this application today by a third party, and it is of concern that Devon County Council has not been consulted in its role as the mineral planning authority.
The factory manager has expressed concerns that a residential property located so close to the Blockworks may introduce a number of restrictions on the daytime operations of the site
A noise assessment has been submitted in support of the application but is deemed to fail to take into account the activities of two large vehicles which regularly operate within 25 metres of the application site and which have high noise level outputs... On this basis, it is not desirable or suitable for a dwelling to be provided in this location.
The applicant appealed; their Statement of Case maintained that such vehicles operated to the north of the blockworks, "at the furthest point from the Proposed Development", and:
It is therefore questionable as to how regularly, if at all, Wheeled Front End Loaders would be operating near to the Proposed Development, given that there is no ostensible use for them in this location. 3.1.9
Whilst the Concrete Products Factory does have permissions in place to operate on a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week basis, with no specific noise limits; it does not give the operator carte blanche to generate infinite levels of noise without any form of action from the Local Authority. Given that we have measured very low ambient sound levels during the daytime, it is reasonable to assume that operations are not going to be louder during the night-time period, as the fixed and mobile plant will be exactly the same, operating on a similar basis (at worst). 3.3.4
DCC prepared a lengthy Statement of Case to support the objection of its aggregate friends. However, the appellants argued that DCC: 

fails to recognise that there are already residential properties to the east of the industrial site; namely Hill Park Farmhouse and Hill Park House, which are some 45 m and 35 m, respectively, from the eastern boundary of the industrial site, and only 75 m and 65 m, respectively, from the production building associated with the Concrete Products Factory and Aggregate Bagging Area. The Proposed Development is approximately 100 m from the building associated with the Concrete Products Factory and Aggregate Bagging Area, which is the main source of noise, as established earlier in this Statement, with the area immediately adjacent to Proposed Development being used solely for the storage of manufactured products. 3.3.6
As such, the Concrete Products Factory and Aggregate Bagging Area are already constrained by properties to the east (Hill Park Farmhouse and Hill Park House), which are at least 25 m closer to the noise generating elements of the industrial site, than the property forming the subject of this appeal.3.3.7
It made no difference. Up against two councils and an aggregates company, the appeal was dismissed.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Of course, tractors use Birdcage Lane too

Picture for a moment how up to 200 HGVs a day would fit into this scene on Birdcage Lane - Aggregate Industries’ proposed site access to Straitgate Farm.

The field entrance on the right is the one belonging to a third party - the field entrance that AI wants to incorporate into its new junction plans.

Whilst this scene obviously doesn’t happen every day on Birdcage Lane - and what AI is proposing would - it was enough to cause a few problems on the B3174.

But Birdcage Lane serves a valuable purpose for agricultural access; people are happy with that - it’s how food gets to our table.

How objective can Mineral Planners be - if they are trained by the industry?

Minerals Planning is about making sure a county has an adequate and steady supply of minerals available - via minerals plans, monitoring mineral use and determining minerals planning applications.

Mineral Planners obviously need to work with the industry - as well as other stakeholders: the public, landowners, and others - to make sure the required minerals are delivered in the best and most sustainable way, whilst managing potentially conflicting plans for land use. They should be objective and impartial. They should not be in bed with the minerals industry.

The minerals industry would of course prefer it if they were, and through the Institute of Quarrying, and Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland, offer various training courses "to better inform mineral planners about resource planning", and no doubt while they're at it, help shape their thinking to be more in-tune to the minerals industry too. As one Regional Director sees it:
I’m a firm believer that if regulators and planners are making critical decisions about the industry, they should be part of it.
Which says it all. But lest we forget, councils are in place for everyone, not just cement multinationals.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Blackhill Quarry restoration

There haven’t been many positives in all this business over the years, but seeing Blackhill Quarry on Woodbury Common in the East Devon AONB now being restored back to nature, removing 100s of HGVs each day from unsuitable roads, is certainly one of them.

Blackhill has been quarried since the early 1930s. Aggregate Industries had desperately wanted to continue using the site, but, when it recently applied to import and process material from Straitgate Farm, it could neither demonstrate the ‘exceptional circumstances’ demanded by the NPPF for major development in an AONB, nor that nitrate-rich material from farmland would not harm habitats on the Pebblebed Heaths.

However, it was almost 20 years ago that the wheels of Blackhill's closure were first set in motion - as we posted in If mobile processing plant can do it all, was the Blackhill extension secured on a lie?:
Modification orders were served on AI to restrict quarrying at Blackhill Quarry in 1999, following the SPA and SAC European nature conservation designations on Woodbury Common; £6 million pounds was paid out in compensation as a result. Nevertheless, AI went on to secure permission to quarry an extension to the site in 2002, and later to process material from Venn Ottery until 2016.
Readers may remember that AI’s first planning application for Straitgate not only claimed that if Blackhill was not used for processing it "would severely restrict the output and product range", but also that Blackhill could not be restored without the silt generated from Straitgate:
In the absence of this development the existing lagoon will remain as a deep, steep sided, angular lagoon, which is incongruous within the wider landscape setting of the AONB and Pebblebed Heaths. 4.1
The claim was of course nonsense, as we argued at the time.

AI claimed much the same thing again for its application some months later to import material from Hillhead into Blackhill:
Should materials not be permitted to be imported to the site, this could potentially result in the processing plant at Blackhill Quarry otherwise remaining under-utilised for the remainder of the planning permission and the permitted restoration not being able to be completed.
Again, nonsense; as we argued at the time.

And to prove as much, there are now new signs up at Blackhill:

So, fancy that. Despite AI’s earlier protestations, restoration "as required by the approved restoration scheme… to allow the site to blend into the wider landscape" is possible after all - even when "no material will be imported into the site". It’s another example of how very little of AI’s planning applications can be taken at face value.

Of course, if no material is now to be "taken off site", you may wonder what will happen to the thousands of tonnes of processed material in these stockpiles.

With AI knowing that these areas had to be restored by the end of this year, it’s surprising that these stockpiles are still in place - when the company apparently sells upwards of 300,000 tonnes of sand and gravel in Devon a year. Now it looks like extraction, haulage and processing of this material was wasted, and it will go back into the ground, requiring some other resource to be dug up to replace it.

As for the processing plant, we posted in July that there was still no sign of Blackhill plant coming down, and that is still the case. This area must also be restored by the end of the year.

Another accident on the B3174

The dangers of the B3174 Exeter Road - the road Aggregate Industries is proposing to use for up to 200 HGVs a day for the next 12 years - were again evident this morning when a car collided with an electricity pole near Straitgate Farm. The road is expected to be closed for most of the day.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Goodness. Another AI director jumps ship

Readers may remember that AI lost its CEO in 2015. The company also lost its HR director in 2016.

This week yet another director has quit, this time AI’s head of cement and concrete products.

Is something wrong at AI? If once is an accident, twice careless, and three times a pattern (to bastardise quotes from Oscar Wilde and Ian Fleming) the loss of four senior directors in relatively quick succession would surely indicate that something’s not right.

And it’s not just the top brass. The Regional Director who had been overseeing the Straitgate project ever since we’ve been involved was replaced last year. At the same time, the Estates Manager responsible for Straitgate also moved to pastures new.

And it’s not just AI. At parent company LafargeHolcim, the CEO left earlier this year after the controversy in Syria. And this week it was announced that the FD would be leaving too.

Plainly it’s not all happiness at this multinational cement giant.

Monday, 9 October 2017

EA requests further information

Following the Environment Agency’s response last month, our subsequent meeting, and another report from Amec, the EA has now requested further information from Aggregate Industries in relation to its planning application for Straitgate Farm.

Monday, 2 October 2017

‘Ministers who fail to cut greenhouse gas emissions should face legal action…’

The government knows very well what needs to be done - but it isn't doing it.
If it takes legal action to force ministers to behave properly, then so be it - I'll support it.
But why stop there?

Councils know very well what needs to be done; some enshrine it in their Minerals Plan:
Devon Minerals Plan Objective 1: …secure a spatial pattern of mineral development that delivers the essential resources to markets within and outside Devon while minimising transportation by road and generation of greenhouse gases…
But why stop there?

It’s clear that aggregate companies and their directors know very well what needs to be done. Some sign up to glossy climate initiatives to "Make freight transport climate compatible" telling the whole world and his dog that they will be "avoiding journeys where possible".

If Aggregate Industries’ multi-million mile plan for Straitgate Farm is anything to go by, it’s all hot air.

So, what will force councils and aggregate companies to behave properly? Because as Prof. King says:
If scientists are telling us our current course of emissions potentially takes us to catastrophe, then to stick to the current course is irrational.
The best available science tells us the risks of crossing tipping points rise very sharply between 1.5 and 2C. And that means the UK cutting emissions to zero.
But in actual fact, carbon emitters know they are in the sights of climate litigants; LafargeHolcim, AI's parent, has identified litigation as "an emerging phenomenon in some jurisdictions", and one of its three main risks from climate change. 

And why shouldn’t they all be worried about litigation? The writing's been on the wall for over 100 years. 

Number of people killed on Devon & Cornwall's roads rises sharply

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Birdcage Lane hosts Devon Classic Rally 2017

This tiny lane - the lane that Aggregate Industries wants to wreck in its quest to claw an ever decreasing amount of sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm - was chosen to form part of this year’s Devon Classic Rally. Cars included Bentleys, Lagondas, Aston Martins and Jaguars.

It’s another example of how Birdcage Lane provides recreational amenity.

And whether for walking, horse riding, jogging or cycling, it is this valuable amenity that AI’s plans for up to 200 HGVs a day would steal from people - both local to East Devon and beyond.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

AI requests deferral

Time and time again Aggregate Industries' planning application for Straitgate Farm has been delayed for one reason or another.

Only last week we posted "it now looks likely that the determination of AI’s application, which missed the September DMC date, will miss the October DMC date too." This week DCC has confirmed that AI has indeed requested that determination of the Straitgate and Hillhead applications be deferred until the DMC meeting of 29 November.

Who knows whether this date will be met? Plainly not all is sorted in the AI camp, even after all these years. In fact, only yesterday AI’s traffic consultants were on site trying to work out how 150 cows could safely cross Ottery’s main road four times a day.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Does Devon's new Minerals Plan stand for anything?

DCC’s newly adopted Minerals Plan was in preparation for years and years. It came up with various Policies and Objectives.

It’s already clear, with Aggregate Industries’ multi-million mile haulage plan for Straitgate Farm, how little Objective 1 ("minimising transportation by road and generation of greenhouse gases") stands for.

Now Sibelco has found, following the approval of the A382 road improvement scheme at Newton Abbot, that Objective 2 doesn’t stand for anything either.

Objective 2 is all about safeguarding mineral resources, particularly those that are scarce or of national importance. The Minerals Plan claims:
For Devon’s industrial minerals and some aggregate minerals, non-mineral development will normally be opposed where it would sterilise resources of economic value.3.3.14  
We’ve written about Mineral Safeguarding before, most recently here. We argued that Devon’s new Minerals Plan could blight thousands of homes across the county and Is this really the best way to 'safeguard' minerals? There’s currently a DCC consultation about it. DCC says:
The Minerals Plan features the introduction of "Mineral Safeguarding Areas" which aim to secure valuable mineral resources from sterilisation by new development, to ensure that they remain available for use by future generations.
But where was Mineral Safeguarding when Sibelco needed it? Sibelco was concerned that the A382 improvements would sterilise significant reserves of "nationally scarce" ball clay and objected to the scheme. Sibelco's concerns were ignored, and following DCC's decision the company has lodged a Judicial Review. Here is the DevonLive article, and an excerpt from it:
A Sibleco spokesman said: “Sibelco has taken this course of action primarily in the interests of the UK’s strategic minerals reserves.
“Devon County Council, in common with other authorities across the country, is legally obliged to identify deposits and outline how they will be managed within a published and regularly reviewed Minerals Plan.
“In some areas deposits are safeguarded by formal consultation zones. One example is Newton Abbot and the Bovey Basin with the recognised economic importance of its ball clay reserves. The area relevant to the A382 programme is identified it as lying within the Mineral Safeguarding Area defined in the Devon Minerals Plan.
“Additionally, the Officer’s Report failed to include any reference to the section of the National Planning Policy Framework which advises that ‘great weight’ should be given to minerals extraction and that permission should not ‘normally’ be granted for non-mineral development where that would sterilise reserves.
“Given that significant reserves of ball clay will be affected by the A382 programme we argue that members did not have the relevant information that would have allowed an informed decision.
“Should similar mistakes or omissions be made again in Devon, or worryingly anywhere else in the UK, the implications for our strategic minerals reserves are grave. We will continue to press for dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues and see if a resolution can be reached.”
A Devon County Council spokesman said: “Following the grant of planning permission for the A382 scheme, Sibelco lodged an application for a judicial review of that decision. Currently the parties have agreed a three month stay to those proceedings.”

600+ companies have committed to BOLD CLIMATE ACTION

Aggregate Industries' parent LafargeHolcim is one of them:

LafargeHolcim has committed to the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi), and must therefore "demonstrate leadership in the climate action arena". One of the initiatives of the LCTPi is to "Make freight transport climate compatible":

With 7.0 GtCO2eq of direct GHG emissions (including non-CO2 gases) in 2010, the transport sector produced 23% of total energy-related CO2 emissions. Freight Transport was responsible for 10% of these.
Reducing global transport GHG emissions will be challenging. The continuing growth in freight activity could outweigh all mitigation measures unless transport emissions can be strongly decoupled from GDP growth.
To address the challenges of climate change, freight transport systems need to be transformed globally.
Solutions will fall into four main categories, number one of which is "avoiding journeys where possible".

Whilst AI plots multi-million mile HGV schemes in Devon, Cemex is making history

HISTORY has been made with the first jumbo train of 34 wagons departing from Associated British Ports rail terminal in Cardiff, South Wales, and travelling to Acton in London, saving the equivalent of more than 80 truck loads on some of the country’s most congested roads.

What happened last time DCC approved a major minerals application?

We’re referring to Wolf Minerals’ open pit tungsten mine just outside Plymouth, near the villages of Sparkwell and Hemerdon.

Wolf Minerals are an Australian mining outfit whose sole operation is the Drakelands Mine. Last November, DCC considered a planning application from the company to extend operations from 2021 to 2036. Sparkwell Parish Council responded to the application, and were:
Concerned about blasting and impact of vibration on people and their property. The application should be delayed or rejected until the unacceptable levels of disturbance to residents can be proven to be an extraordinary occurrence and not likely to re-occur. A track record of blasting impacts needs to be established... Current issues should be resolved before consent is granted for a further 15 years. Their own consultation has indicated health issues arising from lack of sleep caused by Low Frequency Noise (LFN) and additional information is required on this matter as 56 households and up to 103 individuals have stated that they are affected and are experiencing health impacts with more suspected outside the Parish.
Despite this, the officer’s report recommended approval:
The protection to be afforded to residents has to be balanced with the reality of the scale of this particular mining operation which is one of the largest mines in Western Europe. 6.64
And, although councillors heard first hand (41 minutes in) about the "horrendous invasive unacceptable" impact that blasting and LFN was having on the lives of local residents, the application was approved.

Wolf is now back with a new application. To rub salt into residents’ wounds, it’s for a new explosives store. Apparently:
There were difficulties involved in achieving ‘just in time’ delivery of the material, and on occasions blasts had had to be postponed.
So, have the impacts from blasting been reduced? Not if this article is anything to go by:
Cllr May said unfortunately villagers felt that ’nothing ever really changes’, and there had been a blast on the day of the meeting that had been ’really bad’… residents experienced things falling off shelves in their homes…
Looking beyond the health cost to local residents, it looks like Wolf Minerals could need more than a new explosives store to survive:
Martin Potts, analyst at FinnCap, said: "I’d be surprised if the tungsten price rise alone can save them. You’d have to say it’s going to be difficult. The question is: if at the end of this [turnaround] it’s not generating cash, then what happens next?"
Photo: Jeff Collins

Friday, 22 September 2017

AI’s new junction plan

We posted this week about how HGVs kill more pedestrians than cyclists, and today, as if by magic, a new junction plan, "drawing 0308.101 Rev E" with pedestrian footway, appeared on DCC’s website for Aggregate Industries’ proposal for Straitgate Farm.

But the new plan has nothing to do with our post. It's to do with the concerns that Vectos and countless other people had raised over the potential impact of AI’s plans on pedestrians and schoolchildren.

In fact, the new junction plan only appeared on DCC’s website following a number of enquiries; DCC received the plan almost 2 weeks ago, but due to an oversight had not published it for local people and landowners to comment on.

DCC Highways "are still considering" this new plan. Their response should be published on DCC’s website in due course.

However, since DCC is still waiting for information from AI on the "consequential tree loss on the western boundary" and "additional information on the cattle crossing" - and further to our Update - it now looks likely that the determination of AI’s application, which missed the September DMC date, will miss the October DMC date too.

For anybody wishing to comment on this new drawing, or any subsequent environmental information published on DCC’s website, they will have 30 days to do so, in accordance with "The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017":
Further information and evidence respecting environmental statements 25 (7) Where further information is requested under paragraph (1) or any other information is provided, the relevant planning authority, the Secretary of State or the inspector, as the case may be, must suspend determination of the application or appeal, and must not determine it before the expiry of 30 days after the latest of— (a) the date on which the further information or any other information was sent to all persons to whom the statement to which it relates was sent; (b) the date that notice of it was published in a local newspaper; or (c) the date that notice of it was published on a website.
Any comments can be made online or by email to reference DCC/3944/2017.

Thursday, 21 September 2017


Back on the 12 July, DCC’s DMC committee resolved to make a site visit to Straitgate Farm in advance of determining Aggregate Industries’ planning application on 6 September.

DCC was getting a bit ahead of itself, because it wasn’t until the end of July that AI actually responded to the Council’s request for information on the 61 substantive points. At the time we wrote that local people:
now find themselves facing another mass of documents, and another consultation; a consultation, whether by design or not, that will begin at the start of the school holidays.
Nevertheless, DCC rushed to make the 6 September meeting, because, as we know, 'DCC’s job is to deliver Straitgate'. However, the EA raised further concerns and determination was delayed.

Regardless of this, at the DMC meeting of 6 September, the Chairman was "fairly well assured" that Straitgate would be determined at the next meeting, on 25 October. A site meeting for the councillors determining the application was arranged for Monday 23 October, meeting at County Hall at 9am, to visit Straitgate then Hillhead 23 miles away, to be back before 12 noon.

Despite the Chairman being "fairly well assured", one week later DCC wrote to AI asking for an extension of the determination date to 30 November.

At this stage, it’s therefore unclear when Straitgate will be on the agenda.

Whether an indication of the company’s ineptitude or the constraints posed by the site itself, or both, it is now well over two years since AI first submitted a planning application to quarry Straitgate Farm.

Monday, 18 September 2017

HGVs kill more pedestrians than cyclists

Vectos, the highways consultants engaged by a third party, were concerned by the lack of pedestrian provision in Aggregate Industries’ 200 HGVs a day plans for Straitgate Farm. They pointed to "HGVs and Vulnerable Road Users" from RoSPA which states:
More pedestrians are killed or injured casualties in collisions with HGVs than cyclists. In 2015, 186 pedestrians were killed or seriously injured on British roads in accidents involving at least one HGV.
Over half of the HGVs which hit a pedestrian were moving off when they struck the pedestrian, and almost all the pedestrians were crossing the road in front of the HGV at the time of the collision. In some cases, the driver failed to stop because they had not realised that a collision had occurred. 

It's easy to see why - when you consider HGV blindspots, indicated below:

Addressing the Straitgate Farm plans, Vectos warned:
The indicative route of a permissive path is show on drawings SF2 & SF6 but the proposed access design (drawing 0308.101 Rev D) does not show this facility nor does [it] allow for the separation of the pedestrians and HGVs which will access and egress the proposed site, as no specific footway provision is demonstrated.
It is noted that currently school students are required to cross the B3174, however based on the ROSPA note on HGV and pedestrian interaction, I am of the opinion that the introduction of 200 HGVs a day HGV at this location presents a safety risk to pedestrians (including school students).
We’ve mentioned pedestrians before, on the lane that AI wants to make its own with up to 200 HGVs a day: Birdcage Walk, Provision for two-way 44-tonne HGVs, but where do pedestrians fit in?, AI hasn't thought about school children either.

Here’s "drawing 0308.101 Rev D". See if you can spot how the pedestrians that currently enjoy Birdcage Lane are supposed to fit into AI’s scheme.

If DCC were to approve these reckless plans in their current state after so many warnings by the public, and now by Vectos, people would obviously know where to point the finger if something awful happened.

For anybody who thinks Vectos is being alarmist, google "pedestrian lorry OR HGV".

For the millions of people already affected, climate change is no joke

You might have thought that an innocuous Lib Dem motion calling on DCC to condemn Trump for pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement would have been easy for all parties to back. But no.

Senior Tories ridicule Lib Dem move, joking that they fear the billionaire may mistake the county for North Korea and launch an attack

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

AI’s new head of aggregates is off already

In July we posted that Aggregate Industries had appointed Mike Pearce as managing director of its Aggregates division with:
a responsibility to ensure the business acts responsibly and sustainably in each and every one of the communities that it is part of.
We suggested "he should have a good look at what his company is trying to get away with at Straitgate Farm". Perhaps he did. Today it’s been announced he’s moving to Breedon.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

So, what’s AI planning to do?

Aggregate Industries' intention to provide a cattle crossing on the main road into and out of Ottery St Mary certainly seems to be making some headlines.

It’s not surprising that there’s so much concern. Apart from the potential impact on the A30, vehicles on this 60 mph stretch of road would start to queue just beyond the brow of this hill.

Back in May, DCC asked AI:
If [a cattle crossing] will happen as a result of the proposal then the impacts should be factored into the safety assessments and traffic calculations.
To supplement the grazing needs of the tenant’s dairy herd it will be the intention of the applicant to provide a new dedicated route for cattle from the existing milking parlour at Straitgate Farm to the land south of Exeter Road. 1.5
But no safety assessments or traffic calculations were provided. As we wrote last month:
Clearly nobody has thought this through. Or if they have, they've chosen to keep quiet. 
It was left to objectors and highways consultants Vectos to raise concerns:
So what’s AI’s plan? Is AI going to assess the impact? Or is it looking to DCC to find a fix?

Does AI need to assess the impact? DCC’s Reg22 request certainly thought so; it was the number one thing AI had to answer. The legal advice we’ve received is also clear: a cattle crossing would be a consequence of the development, and should have been addressed in the Transport Assessment. Moreover, AI’s application is subject to an EIA:
The environmental impact assessment must identify the direct and indirect effects of a project on the following factors: human beings, the fauna, the flora, the soil, water, air, the climate, the landscape, the material assets and cultural heritage, as well as the interaction between these various elements.
It’s clear that the crossing could impact upon the safety of human beings. An average of almost 7000 vehicles a day was recorded on weekdays on this road in 2015 - before AI’s plan to add up to 200 HGVs a day. And who knows how many more vehicles there might be now, with all the new development in Ottery St Mary?

So what’s AI’s plan? Replacement pasture would obviously be needed to maintain a viable farm. AI says:
The applicant is the Landlord of the Agricultural Tenant at Straitgate Farm who has the benefit of an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 Tenancy Agreement. 1.2
What that benefit effectively means is that any notice to quit can only be served on the land needed for quarrying. Indeed, for Straitgate Farm:
... such resumption of possession not to terminate the tenancy hereby created except in regard to the land taken. 43
In any case, the farmer could already use the B3174 for a cattle crossing to access land to the south of the road as required, without needing any planning permission.

So, what is AI’s plan?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Just how many policies would DCC be ignoring to push Straitgate Farm through?

As Charlie Hopkins concluded:
The proposed development conflicts with a number of Objectives and Policies set out in the Development Plan, namely Objectives 1 and 6, Policies M16, M17, M18, M20, M21, and M22 of the adopted Devon Minerals Plan 2011-2033.
The application is contrary to, and conflicts with a number of core principles, policies and guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
There are not sufficient material considerations in favour of the development so as to outweigh the provisions of the Development Plan.
The adverse impacts of permitting the proposed development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
Why do policies matter?
Indeed, it was a fact recognised by the Chairman of DCC’s Development Management Committee only this year when the new Minerals Plan was adopted, when he spoke not only about the "years of hard work [that] have gone into preparing and consulting on this important document", but also that "all mineral development will need to comply with the plan...".

Now it looks like DCC is wanting to forget all about policies - in order to facilitate the destruction of East Devon farmland, mayhem on Ottery's main road, and millions of miles of polluting HGV haulage.

In which case, local people will rightly wonder what all the "years of hard work" were for, if - when the first greenfield quarry application comes before it - so many of the polices contained within DCC's expensive new Minerals Plan stand for nothing.

And if the policies stand for nothing, and the Council has its own agenda, people will also question the point of responding to DCC's various consultations - like the latest one detailed below - and will most likely conclude none at all.

Is AI one of the 6%?

Some 94% of businesses worldwide feel that organisations should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions even when the law does not require them to... according to a new report from Imperial College London, which reveals that 79% of firms believe climate change poses a risk to their business.
A proper carbon tax would be one of those risks - and could wipe billions from polluters' profits:
A group of leading economists warned this year of catastrophic global warming within 13 years unless countries ramped up taxes on carbon emissions to as much as $100 per tonne. The economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and the former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern were among experts who said governments needed to tackle polluting industries with a tax on carbon dioxide at $40-$80 a tonne by 2020.
Many economists have described climate change as an example of market failure, as unbounded capitalism has so far failed to curb rising pollution. Global warming puts a huge cost and risk on future generations who will suffer the consequences, without these costs and risks being reflected in market prices.
Aggregate Industries' 2.5 million mile CO2 belching haulage plan for Straitgate clearly shows that it's above all this climate concern; that the heavy lifting can be left for others; that it is indeed one of the 6%.

“Mineral Safeguarding consultation gets underway”

A consultation has been launched today (Monday 4 September) on guidance to protect mineral resources in the county.
The Minerals Plan features the introduction of "Mineral Safeguarding Areas" which aim to secure valuable mineral resources from sterilisation by new development, to ensure that they remain available for use by future generations.
"The protection of mineral resources is an important issue that affects many developers and communities in Devon, and we are keen to hear from people to ensure that the new document meets their need and provides clear guidance."
Apparently, "Devon County Council is seeking views from anyone involved in submitting, responding to or determining planning applications in Devon, or those with an interest in the county’s mineral resources" and to that end the Council sent emails to selected parties.

Who was on DCC’s invite list? Certainly not Straitgate Action Group. 

Perhaps we’ve been unable to demonstrate "an interest in the county’s mineral resources" - despite responding to countless mineral consultations over the last 17 years and various planning applications, despite being the only active group in Devon giving an alternative view on minerals.

Perhaps it was something we said, here or here.

Or perhaps DCC only wants to hear from its mineral industry chums et al.

Whatever the reason, if DCC really thought "the protection of mineral resources is an important issue" and that they should "remain available for use by future generations", why is the Council about to rubber stamp one of the most unsustainable quarry proposals imaginable - squandering a "diminishing resource" with mobile processing plant and a 2.5 million mile climate and pollution busting haulage scheme?