Sunday, 30 September 2012

Lose the battle against a sand and gravel quarry and our children could be fighting an "asbestos dump"

If there's anybody who thinks that a sand and gravel quarry at Straitgate Farm would be innocuous, consider the campaigners in the Chew Valley who have been fighting against the disposal of asbestos at nearby Stowey Quarry.

If Aggregate Industries was to quarry Straitgate it is all too likely that after extraction has finished a change in planning conditions would be granted, and the site sold to an inert waste contractor. With sand and gravel profit margins so low, selling the resultant void adds a significant amount to a quarry's overall profit, whilst restoration costs only reduce it.

Stowey Quarry is an example of how planning conditions change. The site was originally granted planning permission in 1954 for the extraction of limestone. In 1979 permission was granted for the tipping of demolition and construction waste and other inert materials. In 2011 permission was sought for the tipping of Stable Non-Reactive Hazardous Waste, including asbestos. 

An extensive local campaign was waged and the application was refused last week. The waste operator can appeal.

It's not just the sand and gravel, the noise and the dust, the disruption to watercourses and the drinking water supplies, the flood risk, the haulage past people's homes and across Woodbury Common. It's what could happen to that big hole in the ground that should also concern people.

Aside from polluting watercourses, the above photograph makes it clear why the site could not be used for household landfill, attracting gulls directly under the approach for aircraft landing at Exeter Airport