Tuesday, 18 June 2013


An update on a jumble of matters following discussions with various parties:

1. In all likelihood there will be two more campaigns by Aggregate Industries at Marshbroadmoor for locals to enjoy, this summer and now probably next summer as well, with material processed at Blackhill as before. Quarrying at Venn Ottery will be put on hold whilst these campaigns proceed.

2. The Environment Agency has delineated a Special Protection Zone for the Holly Ball water source, just north of Straitgate, that supplies some of Escot and a number of other houses. This follows the introduction of an SPZ to safeguard Cadhay water supplies, and again shows the importance of groundwater in the area.

3. DCC has again confirmed to us that officers would not support a proposal that involved processing Straitgate material at Blackhill, a site which the council wishes to see restored. Permission currently runs until 2016, and only for the importation of material from Venn Ottery and Marshbroadmoor. Of course, this doesn't stop AI from applying for an extension to process material from Straitgate, should they get permission here - however unsustainable and commercially nonsensical that might seem, but AI has also indicated to us that it too thinks approval for such a plan would be unlikely.

4. Having considered moving from Blackhill to Hillhead five years ago, there is currently no talk of AI siting any fixed processing plant at Hillhead, despite the bagging plant plans. Any working out of the remaining reserves at Hillhead is likely to be on a campaign basis using mobile plant. The bagged aggregate that AI had stored without permission at Hillhead has been moved in the interim to Greendale Barton, near Woodbury Salterton.

5. Devon's Minerals Plan is currently on hold, still awaiting AI to demonstrate that Straitgate can be relied upon as a sound and appropriate Preferred Site - specifically that the water issues are surmountable and a realistic scheme of working possible, notwithstanding objections from statutory consultees. Having missed several deadlines to supply this information to DCC, AI is only now discovering the complexities of the site - a site it's owned since 1965.

It is ironic that it is AI delaying DCC. It is after all the MPA, AI's trade body, that persistently and vociferously complains that "Most mineral plans are out of date - at the end of January 2013, less than 50% [of] mineral planning authorities in England had an adopted Core Strategy and six had not even started the process". If Devon's anything to go by, mineral companies dragging their feet may also be to blame. To ruin an idiom: people who live in quarries shouldn't throw stones.