Friday, 15 March 2013

Two quarrying proposals without any objections at all

Minerals can only be quarried where they are found. But, unlike Straitgate Farm, some locations are obviously more acceptable than others, and some raise no objection at all.

Tynes Quarry on the North Cornwall coast is such an example. Cornish Stone Products has a "long-term plan of development on a small scale". Set to be reopened, the operation will support about six people, involves no blasting and "the stone extracted would be mainly for hedging and facing". In recommending approval, the planning officer reported that "the previous history of the site as an active quarry is a material planning consideration". "A wetland area would be created at the western end of the site as ecological mitigation" and "the nearest homes are some distance from the site and there have been no objections from them".

Another example, "Duntilland Quarry is one of the largest mainland hard rock quarries in Scotland" and in 2010 Aggregate Industries applied for, and in 2011 secured, "a 43Mt consent on a 165ha site extending the life of the quarry until 2049". Not one objection was received. AI's Estates Manager for Scotland, wrote in Mineral Planning "Aggregate Industries found that the key to manoeuvring a major minerals application smoothly through the planning process was a great deal of public consultation and sensitivity to the environment".

Which is how it should be. He added "the consultation addressed many issues either through events or one-to-one meetings and no objections or negative representations were made to the application". It all sounds great. But why did it go so well? And were there really no "negative representations"?

It helped that the application was for an extension to an existing quarry, directly adjacent to and north of the M8 motorway, with the nearest communities to the south of the M8. It helped that AI visited "neighbouring residents and businesses to discuss the proposed extension ensuring all parties were aware of and able to participate in the planning process." But the main reason for the lack of objections was probably because, as AI's planning documentation makes clear, "the proposed quarry extension is in an isolated location, several kilometres from the nearest settlement or village".

Regarding the claim of no "negative representations", Salsburgh Community Council did in fact make nine pages of "observations" on dust, PM10s, HGVs, visual impact, ancient monuments and more, but submitted no formal objection. 

In fact, for an application proposing 39 more years of hard rock quarrying, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, only six people attended "a well-advertised consultation event", two of which were from North Lanarkshire Council. If DCC's West Hill drop-in event last year is anything to go by, any event AI organises, in connection with quarrying at Straitgate Farm, could expect hundreds. For the multitude of reasons raised by the Environment Agency, Natural England, Exeter Airport and local people, Straitgate Farm is plainly not the right location.