Saturday, 1 December 2012

Did AI stick to its permitted exploration rights?

Aggregate Industries' personnel on site this week were friendly and professional, whilst being sensitive and accommodating to local peoples' concerns. Nevertheless, the simple task - relative to a full-scale quarry operation - of digging test pits still resulted in breaches, requiring intervention, of AI's permitted exploration rights - the same rights that AI reminded us of in its "To whom it may concern" letter.

There were three cases. Firstly, AI's operations were at times within the permitted limit of "50m of any part of an occupied residential building" which resulted in a heap of as-dug gravel having to be moved. AI may have had no other reasonable access to the site, but this was of no comfort to the those affected, especially when they had received no direct communication from the company before work started. Secondly, before a reminder of its permitted rights, AI planned to dig two 35 metre long trenches, substantially exceeding its allowed limit of "12 square metres in surface area" per pit. Finally, the pits "shall be filled with material from the site" but were actually refilled with as-dug sand and gravel from Venn Ottery quarry, which was a different colour and contained a high clay fraction. AI did not have the required written permission from DCC for this at the time it hauled the Venn Ottery material to Straitgate. Such permission was only received after pit-refilling had already started.

Minor transgressions, perhaps, but embarrassing for AI all the same. Based on what's been seen so far, would local people trust AI not to breach one or more of the multiple operating regulations of a full-scale quarry operation?