Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Councillors reject plans for two sand and gravel quarries against officer advice

Councillors have unanimously refused permission for a two million tonne sand and gravel quarry in Fife, despite officers recommending approval. NHS Fife objected, outlining concerns about "noise, dust, the quarry’s proximity to houses and the psychological effects of living next to a quarry" and saying that "residents living nearby, particularly children, could be harmed by dust emissions...".
Questioning whether assurance could be given that dust from the quarry would not cause a single case of lung disease, [a councillor] compared the health risk to that of coal dust and asbestos. She said: “Even with the mitigation measures, there is still going to be a degree of dust. When the wind blows in a certain direction there will be dust on people’s properties and if there is dust on your windows there is dust in your lungs.”
Her concerns echo those of an earlier post here on respirable crystalline silica.

Reasons given for refusal were "cumulative impact with neighbouring quarries, visual impact, proximity to houses, impact on residential amenity from noise and dust, road safety, loss of trees, flood risk, water table issues and lack of proven need". All bar one could of course apply to Straitgate.

Another application, this time to extract 1.4Mt of sand and gravel near Great Yarmouth, was also refused. The planning officer had recommended approval "to address the current shortfall in the sand and gravel landbank" which, at 5.3 years, was less than the 7 years the NPPF requires. No objections were raised by the Environment Agency, Natural England and Broads Authority, but councillors considered the proposal would harm the setting of a listed church and the amenity of nearby residents due to increased noise, dust and traffic. Substitute church for Devon longhouse or Tudor manor house and again all could apply to Straitgate.

Of course for Straitgate, in a county where there are 15 years supply of sand and gravel, not 5.3, there has already been concern shown by the Environment Agency, Natural England, Exeter Airport and hundreds of others before an application has even been raised. For reasons of its own, Aggregate Industries plainly believes these concerns present no barrier to its plans. Time will tell.