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?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Highway consultants demonstrate AI’s attempt to use Birdcage Lane has ‘failed’; Damage to 3rd party property ‘would expose Council to legal action’

On the instructions of a third party, a large law firm has responded to Aggregate Industries' application to quarry Straitgate Farm, specifically addressing:
1. the highway and safety impacts of the proposed access along Birdcage Lane;
2. the unsustainability of the proposed development in policy terms;
3. the impact of the proposed access works on a tree within [3rd party] land.
Highways consultants Vectos have also been engaged.

The head of the planning team at Foot Anstey writes that DCC "will agree that the safety of people is more important than the extraction of sand and gravel":
The application is now the third attempt by the applicant to find a means for accessing the development. As the Vectos Report demonstrates, this attempt has failed. Any scheme which raises the prospects of harm to children is, self-evidently, both sub-optimal and unacceptable. No application should be approved which places 200 HGVs per day in potential conflict with pedestrians and school children. This is reflected in policy, both at a local and national level… The LPA will agree that the safety of people is more important than the extraction of sand and gravel. Unless the applicant can demonstrate that safety will not be compromised, permission should be refused.
Vectos has raised a number of significant concerns relating to the proposed development. These include problems with right-turning traffic from the B3174/Exeter Road, problems with the interaction between the required new cattle crossing and the operation of the B3174, and, most worryingly, significant problems of pedestrian safety, including those of children… the LPA cannot lawfully grant planning permission without properly considering the Vectos Report, the response to that Report by the applicant, and any residual adverse and harmful highway and safety impacts.
The Vectos Report gives more detail:
The design does not take into account the impact of HGVs emerging on right turning traffic into Birdcage Lane. Vehicles will have to wait on the B3174 longer creating a hazard. There is evidence of collisions occurring due to turning traffic along the B3174. As a result, in accordance with TD 42/95 a right turn lane should be provided;
… the currently proposed access and proposed Birdcage Lane adjustments do not take into account the safety of pedestrians (including school students) and should be considered not to provide safe and suitable access for all people, which is contrary to paragraph 32 of the NPPF.
The provision of a Cattle crossing over the B3174 may have severe impact on the operation of the B3174, which in the absence of assessment is not known.
On the "Unsustainability of the Development in Policy Terms", DCC is reminded by Foot Anstey that "the inclusion of the application site in the DMP is only the first stage" and whilst:
 … there may be a planning need at some future date for allowing development at Straitgate notwithstanding its non compliance with policies… in 2017, a grant of permission at Straitgate would be premature at best, as alternative sites already exist which will deliver the requisite mineral requirements, and which do not have adverse environmental and other planning impacts.
On the damage to third party property, Vectos concurs with AI’s consultants, who have said that it is "likely [that Tree H] will be damaged by the development and need to be felled."

Foot Anstey has advised DCC that the third party:
... will not allow damage to his property. Accordingly, any development which may cause such damage will be resisted through available legal means, which may include an application for an injunction and/or an action for damages. Any such action would be brought against both the applicant and the Council (in its capacity as the local highways authority), and may also include a private prosecution for criminal damage.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Canada geese brought down US Airways Flight 1549...

...the accident dubbed "Miracle on the Hudson" and subject of the recent film "Sully".


Aggregate Industries' plans for Straitgate Farm would see quarrying directly below - just 195m below - Exeter Airport’s landing approach. Invariably there would be bodies of water. Ponding and wet grasslands would be left in perpetuity. Water attracts birds. Birds and planes don’t mix. Canada geese are one of the most dangerous species for aircraft:
The dangers are so great that some US airports have adopted a "zero tolerance policy" for geese. It's easy to see why:


The CAA's "Safeguarding of Aerodromes Advice Note 3 Wildlife Hazards around Aerodromes" warns that geese are drawn to water and wetlands.

Blackhill Quarry is a good example. Operated by AI, Blackhill is several miles down the road from Straitgate, but still within Exeter Airport's 13km safeguarding zone. For the bodies of water that would be created by any quarrying at Straitgate, AI has a plan. Who would be responsible for implementing it?
Aggregate Industries will be responsible for the implementation of all safeguarding within the site boundaries, monitoring bird numbers and activities and ensuring Exeter Airport is informed if any significant changes to ground and habitat occur and reviewing the performance of the plan.
And when AI is not on site? Outside any campaign periods? After any quarrying has finished? For evermore? Who knows.

If there's any plan for AI's Blackhill Quarry, it's clearly not working. Here are some photos of the 300 or so Canada geese who are currently making Blackhill their home.





The accidents that don't appear in DCC's records

In light of Aggregate Industries' ludicrous plans for the B3174, this video has been reposted by Ottery Fictional Matters - for those who missed it first time around:


Back in the real world, it's fortunate that no-one was injured on the B3174 in this scene from last year:


Or in this scene from earlier this year:


And because no-one was injured in these accidents, the data does not appear in DCC's injury collision records which are used to assess the suitability or not of the Exeter Road for AI's application for Straitgate Farm. If we exclude the accident that happened only last month, here are some more accidents, over the last year or so, that don't appear in the records either:





Together they add to the evidence that shows how unsuitable the B3174 is for AI's plans; DCC's most recent Road Safety Statistics Year End Report already puts the B3174 Daisymount A30 to Ottery St Mary as one of the worst performing roads in Devon.

Who’s writing Amec Foster Wheeler’s reports?

With so many private water supplies at risk from Aggregate Industries’ plans to quarry Straitgate Farm, you would expect experts in hydrogeology to assess the impact on groundwater and to supply the Environment Agency with any hydrogeological information. Up until now, with Amec Foster Wheeler acting as AI’s hydrogeology consultants, that has at least appeared to be the case.

Up until now.

Following Straitgate application delayed as EA requests more information, AI has now supplied additional clarification on "hydrogeological modelling" to the Environment Agency.

But who is the author of this report? Are we to believe it is Amec, or is it AI themselves - the beneficiary of the scheme?

The report is clearly passed off as the work of Amec, but the author and their hydrogeology qualifications are not identified. The note relates to a meeting between the EA and AI; no Amec personnel were present. The note contains various new contour maps and cross sections produced by AI, not by Amec. The commentary also seems to be an AI creation.

Why should it matter? Because information for an Environmental Statement is meant to be provided by "competent experts". The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 are clear:
To ensure the completeness and quality of the Environmental Statement, the developer must ensure that it is prepared by competent experts. The Environmental Statement must be accompanied by a statement from the developer outlining the relevant expertise or qualifications of such experts.
Has AI become a competent expert in "hydrogeological modelling"? Read the report and decide. AI still claims that at PZ05, towards the middle of the site, there would be a "1.0m standoff retained between maximum working base and average summer water low", with the "summer working base coincident with MWWT 'grid'", when this simply cannot be. The Maximum Winter Water Table at PZ05 is modelled to 146m AOD. There cannot be 1m of unsaturated gravel beneath the MWWT in the summer in this area: the summer water level does not fall by 1m; 146m AOD is the base of the gravel (BSPBs). It’s a similar situation at PZ01. These are two of the six locations that have been used to map AI’s base of extraction across the site.

Furthermore, AI makes umbrella-shaped conclusions based on the two new boreholes drilled in 2016, saying that "it is likely the water level in these piezometers may never reach substantially higher levels." But again this is pure conjecture by what appears to be a hopeful geologist, rather than rigorous evidence from a qualified hydrogeologist. Water levels from these boreholes were recorded when the 2016/17 winter rainfall was just 65% of the 1981-2010 average, the driest winter for more than 20 years.

For all that, there’s nothing new in AI’s report, no new data. Just more hopeful predictions using 6 locations to map "the detailed groundwater dynamics of the site" across almost 60 acres. As we’ve said before, the seasonal working scheme for Straitgate can't work as AI describes.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Queues of over 100 vehicles from cattle crossing makes AI’s plans unworkable

Photo © Bill Boaden (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Whilst this is a scene from elsewhere in the country - it does show the impact of cows. We’ve mentioned the B3174 and the cows at Straitgate Farm before: the bovine movements and the number one thing that AI had to answer.

Aggregate Industries' plans for Straitgate Farm would remove over 100 acres of pasture. Replacement pasture would therefore be needed to maintain a viable farm, so that unquarried land could be kept in production, and so that farming could be resumed as quickly as possible post extraction - if there’s to be any hope of restoring this best and most versatile farmland. To that end:
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.
In our response we wrote:
There has been no assessment of the impact of the cattle crossing on traffic and the functioning of the B3174. Around 150 cows would need to cross the main road into and out of Ottery St Mary four times a day for replacement pasture. The Transport Assessment has not assessed this, nor has it assessed it cumulatively with the additional HGVs - up to 200 a day - that the applicant proposes.
DCC’s Regulation 22 request had said that for any cattle crossing:
No calculations were forthcoming; AI wanted things dealt with post determination:
The issues raised over signage will be dealt with under the detailed design and the Stage 2 Road Safety Audit that would be necessary following any grant of permission. 1.8
It’s now clear why.

If AI doesn't want to do any calculations, we can do some for them.

We have the traffic counts for the B3174, here and here, performed by Highways England over a two week period in 2015; these were provided to the Council by objectors to replace the fictional count supplied by AI. Highways England's figures showed almost 60% more vehicles than AI had claimed.

The cattle crossing would close a 60mph stretch of the B3174 for up to 20 minutes at a time, 4 times a day, year round, over 10-12 years. Our calculations have focused on weekdays, and assumed only 15 minute closures to reflect the monitoring periods in the traffic counts. We've also assumed that the current milking times of 7am and 4.30pm, for a duration of 1.5 hours, would be maintained.

The 2015 counts obviously exclude traffic generated from the new developments in Ottery St Mary. They also exclude AI’s planned HGV numbers - up to 1 every 3 minutes.

The impact that we have calculated from the cattle crossing is therefore best case; calculations can be found here. What do we find? During the 15 minutes crossing times, over 100 vehicles can be travelling on the B3174 Exeter Road, in one direction or the other. If we assume an average queuing vehicle length of 7.5m, including gaps, this means that traffic queues could stretch to the A30 Daisymount Junction and half way to Ottery.



This obviously creates huge safety implications, as vehicles back up towards blind parts of the road.

Clearly nobody has thought this through. Or if they have, they've chosen to keep quiet. Remember, DCC was only days away from determining this application.



Wednesday, 23 August 2017

‘DCC’s job is to deliver Straitgate’

Aggregate Industries’ quest to quarry Straitgate Farm has been a long-running and sorry saga. Anyone hoping that its latest planning application would be decided on its merits - weighing up the multitude of conflicting issues - will be disappointed.

In fact, in the rush to make the 6 September DMC meeting, had it not been for the EA’s concerns, DCC was preparing to write its report for councillors - 10 days before the consultation had even ended.

Why DCC’s rush? Are we to believe that the 61 substantive points raised in the Council’s Reg22 request have all miraculously been resolved, together with the myriad of material issues raised by local people on traffic safety, cattle crossings and the like? No, of course not; the cumulative impact of a 4x daily cattle crossing and up to 200 additional HGVs daily on Ottery’s busiest road hasn’t even been assessed!

So why is DCC so determined? The Council says 'Development Management’s job is to deliver what’s in the Devon Minerals Plan'.

Ah yes, the Devon Minerals Plan. The Plan that was delayed for years, as the Minerals Officer bent over backwards to accommodate AI - ignoring valid arguments from hundreds of people, ignoring warnings over processing, site access, resource figures and land ownership issues. The Plan that, at the last moment, took away the 1m of unquarried material to protect peoples’ water supplies so that AI’s resource figures would stack up:


The Plan that still laughably claims:


Was a planning application to truck 1.5 million tonnes of as-dug material 23 miles away to be processed, from the "southern parts" to the "northern parts" - where 4 million tonnes of permitted reserves still lie in the ground - what the Minerals Officer, who stubbornly advocated Straitgate for the best part of 5 years, had in mind? We warned that the southern/northern logic was "a flawed and misguided proposition", and so it proved.

Although you’d never know it, Straitgate’s designation was actually downscaled in the Minerals Plan. Originally a Specific Site - where "the proposal is likely to be acceptable in planning terms" - it now forms part of Policy M12 as a Preferred Area - "where planning permission might reasonably be anticipated". What does "reasonably" mean? A fair chance, a moderate chance? Whatever it means, it’s far from certain. The Minerals Plan provides for this:


But remember, Policy M12 is just ONE of the policies in the Plan. And as DCC reminds us - in BOLD:


Why is DCC pushing one part of M12 in isolation of other policies? Perhaps DCC thinks that some policies should have more weight than others? Perhaps DCC thinks that the policy that helps the bottom line of a Swiss multinational, should have more weight than the policies to help safeguard our planet, "minimising transportation by road and generation of greenhouse gases", Objective 1, et al? Aren’t any climate alarm bells ringing at DCC yet? None at all? Because even the Minerals Plan warns us that:


Could it be that DCC’s hands are tied; that it has no choice but to push Straitgate? What therefore is the role of Development Management?
Development Management is end-to-end management of the delivery chain for sustainable development
Development Management is an integral part of the spatial planning process; it puts spatial development plans into action and seeks to achieve good design and sustainable development
And what does the NPPF have to say?



No prizes for working out the common phrase in each. Planners should work "proactively" when applicants are delivering sustainable development.

But what if applicants are NOT delivering sustainable development? How much bending over backwards with public money should the Council be doing then, for an international cement conglomerate?

Because, however you frame it, a 2.5 million mile haulage plan to a mobile processing plant further away from its target market, CANNOT be deemed sustainable development by any stretch of the imagination.

So why is DCC so focused on delivering Straitgate, smoothing the way, greasing the wheels, overlooking fineable offences and failure to give notice to people whose land is affected, overlooking the fiction and falsity, letting AI come back with report after report in an effort to make things work? Is there something we don’t know about? Is it all a stitch-up?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Straitgate application delayed as EA requests more information

Aggregate Industries’ planning application to quarry Straitgate Farm was due to be determined by DCC’s Development Management Committee on 6 September 2017.

Determination has now been delayed. DCC confirmed that the Environment Agency has "requested further clarification" following a meeting with AI this week.

The EA objected in April. AI subsequently delivered yet another lengthy water report, which was supposed to address the issues raised in DCC’s Reg22 request. Plainly it didn’t.

The fact that AI still can’t get its groundwater model to stack up after all these years is telling. We recently posted on the issue, saying that "for the majority of the site - except where boreholes have actually been drilled - AI and their merry band of consultants haven’t got a clue where the water is".

No doubt, if AI had just decided to leave 1m unquarried above the maximum water table to protect drinking water supplies - like any normal quarry company - it wouldn’t be in this mess.

The next DMC meeting is scheduled for 25 October. Who knows if the company’s application will be ready by then. As we post below, water isn't AI's only problem.

So, if AI can’t use Birdcage Lane…

... without damaging other people’s property - without the necessary space to allow the unrestricted two-way flow of HGV traffic called for by DCC - what’s left?

Site access problems have dogged Aggregate Industries from the start. Click on the maps below to see the three ideas that have been proposed for Straitgate Farm so far.



pic name

Having discarded the Straitgate Farm entrance itself as being too dangerous, AI’s first idea for site access was on the west side of the site. In November 2012, residents found out what that would have been like, when they woke up to find this on their doorstep without warning. The idea was quickly discarded, for a multitude of reasons.


AI’s second idea for site access was at the northern end of the site. Numerous residents had concerns over that idea, and Hugo Swire MP met with the company to voice them. It transpired, in any case, that AI had no rights to use the land in the way it intended - something we'd warned about two years before - and the planning application that relied upon it was subsequently withdrawn.

'If planning is eventually granted then I do feel that DCC should explore alternative entry and exit points to mitigate the disruption that this development will cause.'
AI is now on its third idea. The company's Transport Assessment - the one with the fictional traffic figures for the Exeter Road - reckoned this was an improvement on the previous idea:
The presently proposed access is better for goods vehicle movements from Straitgate Farm than the initially proposed route. 9.29
But that was obviously without taking third party property, trees or the width of the lane into account.

If AI can’t use Birdcage Lane or land to the north, what’s left? Last year, after the first application was withdrawn, AI had looked at another option: Little Straitgate.





It was an odd decision, because Little Straitgate - 75m to the west of Birdcage Lane - 75m closer to the brow of a hill - had already been deemed too dangerous in the company's first application:
Initially two possible locations for site access at Straitgate Farm were assessed, one being in the south of the site and the other at the northern end of the site. 5.43
The southern option, onto the B3174, was dismissed early in the process on highway safety grounds. It would have been too close to existing accesses, including the access to Straitgate Farmhouse, and the vertical alignment of the highway at this point would compromise visibility. It was decided therefore to create a new access at the northern end of the site... 5.44
Nevertheless, AI prepared some access plans for Little Straitgate. This was the option that a Road Safety Audit suggested should be left turn only - not right, the way AI needed to go; the option that subsequently involved installing traffic lights on the B3174. Concerns were raised by DCC, including on visibility splays, and - after the high vis jackets meeting - the whole idea was dropped in favour of Birdcage Lane.

If AI was to revisit Little Straitgate - it would have to factor in the cows too - the ones that would need to cross the road 4 times a day to find replacement pasture - the ones that would need two more entrances onto the Exeter Road; one of which would be between the Little Straitgate and Straitgate Farm entrances, and one opposite. Would the HGVs and cows each have their own set of traffic lights?? It’s all looking very complicated. Perhaps it would be simpler if AI helicoptered the sand and gravel out.


But don’t quarry companies always find a way around these things? Not always. In June of this year, an attempt by Tarmac to reopen a quarry was blocked by councillors over road safety concerns:
I’m not quite sure that the proposals to improve the signage and cut back vegetation to improve views is the answer.
Sound familiar? Tarmac was looking at "up to 13 vehicle movements per hour" onto a 50mph road; here, it’s up to 20 per hour, onto a 60mph road, on a hill.