Friday, 26 April 2013

Devon's sand and gravel production figures for 2012

Figures provided by DCC show that Devon's sand and gravel demand continued to flatline in 2012, with just 0.49 million tonnes produced - only 50,000 tonnes more than 2011, despite heightened construction activity at Cranbrook and the Exeter Science Park. Last year was the fourth consecutive year where production was less than 0.5Mt - about half the figure required a decade earlier. However, the county's sand and gravel reserves - resource with planning permission for extraction - fell by 0.87Mt to 8.29Mt - a drop of 0.38Mt more than the level of production - as operators reassessed reserve levels at a number of quarries. Whenever reassessments of reserves are undertaken by operators, invariably the net result is down rather than up, as operators over-promise and under-deliver; something local people should be mindful of when revised resource figures are presented by Aggregate Industries for Straitgate Farm.

Despite the reserves reassessment, the 10 year weighted moving average detailed in DCC's Local Aggregate Assessment still gives Devon a sand and gravel landbank of 14.5 years - double that required by the NPPF. That's not something AI cares about. It thinks Devon needs another quarry, and no doubt expects to get its way - fully aware of the helpful guidance in the Government's new Managed Aggregate Supply System, which says that the size of a county's landbank should play no part in deciding a planning permission. Completely the reverse of housing then, where a 5 year supply of ‘deliverable’ housing is certainly - and some would say the only - material consideration in determining planning applications. MASS may stand for managed aggregate supply system but means something altogether more muddled, inconsistent, irrational, and unsustainable. In other words, all the signs of mineral industry lobbying.