Monday, 15 July 2013

How is it that quarries turn into industrial sites so easily?

At Oaken Wood, Gallagher Aggregates have said the ancient woodland destroyed will be eventually replaced by new planting covering twice the area lost. How can we be sure? How is it that quarries so easily turn into industrial sites? Quarry companies make a loud shout about nature sites and restoration. In practice, local people see things differently.

Even if restoration is a planning condition, companies apply for change of use - it's so much more profitable. Look at all the recent applications for wind turbines, solar panels, aggregate recycling, incinerator waste processing, etc. AI's retrospective planning application for an aggregate bagging plant at Uffculme - transferring from Bishops Court Quarry in Exeter, now to be developed for housing - is a case in point. And reading the recommendation from DCC's Head of Planning, it's easy to see how a quarry leads on to industrialisation rather than restoration:
6.20 Policy MP51 allows for industrial development within mineral sites if the operations have close links to the quarry on which the operations are sited. In this case the proposal does not have links with the adjacent mothballed quarry (although in the future it may have) but neither does the concrete products factory which has a full, free standing planning permission.
6.23 The adopted Mid Devon Local Plan policies S5 and DM7 seek to protect existing land use from inappropriate development, but in this case it is considered that the proposed development, because of its nature, links in well with the existing land use.
So with 6.20, the plant has no links with the quarry - but hey, so what. 6.23, however, is the crux of it because any industrial development always "links in well" with the despoilation of a worked-out quarry.

AI's bagging plant application will be decided by councillors this week, but officers have already made up their mind that "the site is appropriate for the development proposed". And according to AI, in its presentation to councillors, the people of Uffculme should be grateful:
[The bagging plant] demonstrates the Company's commitment to invest in the local area in a period of industry consolidation/site closures/job losses
Grateful for what? It's unclear whether a single new job - local or otherwise - will be created. So it can only be for the extra HGVs - traffic up 76% at one junction. The people of Uffculme must be thrilled.