Thursday, 28 February 2013

DCC finalises 1st Local Aggregate Assessment

DCC has published the final version of its first LAA, following consultation with various parties. As a requirement of the NPPF, "the LAA will be published annually to inform development and monitoring of Local Plans, including recent sales and revisions to levels of reserves and the length of landbanks".

The NPPF specifies a sand and gravel landbank of at least 7 years "based on a rolling average of 10 years sales data and other relevant local information". Since Devon's 10 year average is significantly above current production, DCC has adopted in its LAA a 10 year rolling average weighted more towards recent data (A.18), and is the only council to have used such an approach. Devon Stone Federation, representing Aggregate Industries and others, did not support the move.

A new paragraph (5.18) added to the final version of the LAA states that the Pebble Beds (PBs) - measuring an "effective" PSV of 60-64 - are now approved for high friction road surfacing "reducing Devon's reliance on gritstone imported from elsewhere in the UK". This is at odds with the Jacobs report, commissioned by DCC, which recognises (4.3.2) the use of the PBs for roadstone, but "with a PSV in the mid 50s, it is suitable for general use, but not for high-specification applications". Neither were the PBs identified for such use in DCC's Technical Report. In fact for Straitgate the PSV is recorded as 53 (P.7). Whatever has changed, the amounts in question should be relatively small.

DCC did acknowledge in one response that "while an economic recovery is likely to lead to increased construction activity, increasing emphasis on sustainable construction may see increased use of materials other than aggregates, together with use of alternatives to land-won aggregates", which is welcome after so many people raised the same issue during the consultation.