Sunday, 10 June 2012

Answering Councillor Diviani

Councillor Diviani,  Leader of EDDC, made a number of comments at the DCC Development Management Committee meeting that we would like to address.

Cllr Diviani referred to a "temporary drop in need", yet the sand and gravel demand in Devon has been falling for over 20 years. It is not a "blip" and is actually the reverse of Exeter Airport which, citing as an analogy, he claimed went from "a million flights a year to four hundred thousand". (The CAA figures do record over a million passengers in 2007 decreasing to 709k last year but are forecast to grow to 3.4m by 2030.) Moreover, with the increased use of secondary and recycled aggregates and with the introduction of the landfill tax and aggregates levy, sand and gravel demand can be expected, at best, to recover in line with construction growth, forecast at little more than 2% pa to 2030, although this may have already been overtaken by world events and public spending cuts. In fact, DCC's use of a 10 year historic average of declining figures to forecast future requirements is likely to significantly overestimate the provision needed. Cllr Diviani went on to claim that the Council is "nowhere near making a decision on any sites whatsoever", yet DCC's Consultation specifically asked the public for views on three identified sites (N6,N8,S7) and AI would ideally like to commence quarrying at Straitgate after finishing at Venn Ottery in 2016. He then accused the respondents of being NIMBYs, which is neither conducive to public participation in local democracy nor reasonable, since it was DCC that included the Northern and Southern sites in the same Consultation and asked people which sites they supported or objected to. We do however welcome his promise that he and the Council "will look at the valid arguments people are proposing" - the reasons set out by the Environment Agency, Exeter Airport, Natural England and 384 others would, we suggest, be a good place to start.