Saturday, 8 February 2014

Spot the difference?

With flooding, extreme weather and climate change in the headlines again, take a look at the two quarry plans for Straitgate Farm. On the left, the one English China Clays put together in 1967 that was turned down. On the right, the one from Aggregate Industries. Spot the difference?

The most noticeable difference is a 32 acre lake on one and an ephemeral or transient pond on the other. The 1967 lake would have been formed in the void left by quarrying on the eastern side of the farm - an area no longer targeted by AI, for geological and commercial reasons. This 32 acre lake, 'Straitgate Lake', had a function. Such an important function that by the following year - in time for the Public Inquiry - it was increased to 49 acres in negotiation with Devon River Authority. Its function was to control flooding for downstream communities, by the "use of the proposed lakes for 'balancing' flood flows with appropriate settings of the proposed overflow weirs".

That was 1968, before any talk of climate change. So what does AI propose today - in the face of extreme weather and increased rainfall? A small ephemeral pond...

Is AI saying that Devon River Authority had it wrong in 1968? Or has AI conveniently 'forgotten' about flooding? 'Forgotten' what soil compaction and the removal of sand & gravel groundwater storage could do on a hill above communities with a history of flooding? Any flooding mitigation scheme planned today must be much more robust than any for 1968, much more than just a 'funnelling' of stormwater run-off down to an ephemeral pond, and overflowing down the watercourse to Cadhay.