Friday, 31 October 2014

Straitgate Farm - the "best and most versatile agricultural land"

All the land threatened at Straitgate Farm, around 80 acres, is graded under the Agricultural Land Classification as 3a, and is therefore considered the "best and most versatile agricultural land".

In 1968, the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food strongly objected to plans advanced at that time to quarry Straitgate:
The Minister is anxious to safeguard such valuable agricultural land so far as possible and I am directed to advise that in his opinion there is the strongest possible objection to the proposed development on agricultural grounds.
The application also gives every indication of being "the thin end of the wedge", and if approval were to be granted others adjoining or nearby would almost certainly be precipitated, with the greatly increased loss of further good agricultural land.
How this important natural resource is used is vital to sustainable development. This includes taking the right decisions about protecting it from inappropriate development. 
Planning authorities... should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of higher quality. 
Consultations with Natural England are required on all applications for mineral working or waste disposal if the proposed afteruse is for agriculture or where the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land agricultural land will be 20 ha or more.
Standing in one of the fields at Straitgate looking over the farm buildings towards Sidmouth Gap and East Devon AONB