Monday, 5 January 2015


1. County Council Leader warns of more cuts

With headlines telling us Fresh cuts 'will push councils to breaking point’, and the Mineral Products Association telling us "the greater proportion of new permissions [for mineral extraction] granted since 2006 were for sites that were not allocated in mineral plans", people will wonder why we bother with the expense of Mineral Plans at all - the expense of flawed site appraisals, the expense of endless consultations that seem to influence nothing but what mineral companies want.

Council Leader John Hart said:
There are certain services we are required to provide by law but I’m afraid we have to ask some very hard questions about everything else we do. We’ve already exhausted the easier savings that we can make by being more efficient.
And the fact is, all Mineral Planning Authorities are required, by law, to develop plans for mineral provision. So whilst DCC cuts services, and charges a charity £45 for hanging some Christmas lights, rest assured that Devon's Mineral Planning function is here to stay.

Clinton Devon Estates has complained that ‘illegal off-road motorcyclists risk damaging one of East Devon’s most important conservation sites and ancient monuments’; the same landowner that has, over many years, financially benefited from English China Clays and Aggregate Industries quarrying, processing and driving over the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths - an 'internationally important conservation site, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area'.

A spokesperson for Clinton Devon Estates said: "We have reported the details of the motorcyclists to the police. The Pebblebed Heaths is a sensitive and much-loved conservation site enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of walkers each year. There are no rights of way across the heaths for motorised vehicles..."

A spokesperson for Natural England said: "East Devon Pebblebed Heaths SSSI is of national importance for its heathland, grasslands, mires and fens, breeding birds, and dragonflies and damselflies. Off-roading vehicles have the potential to damage and disturb these sensitive interests. Many of these features are also of international importance..."

A spokesperson for the Police said: "The police take this type of offence very seriously and work closely with Clinton Devon Estates, Natural England and English Heritage to protect the land from damage by motorised vehicles. It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 for anyone to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle across the Heaths..."

... Aggregate Industries' motorised and mechanically propelled quarry vehicles obviously excepted.

Another story of delayed restoration. A spokesman for the "Enough is Enough" campaign said:
The residents were told these workings would take six years. They have taken almost 12 – twice as long. And it is laughable to plead lack of infill whilst Crossrail continues at a pace. Councillors must stand firm and they can rest assured that they will be held to account if they do not by the residents of Aldborough Hatch.
A local resident said:
I have had to live with the noise, dust and pollution coming from it for the last 12 years. Redbridge Council needs to now think about the best needs of the residents. We have lived with Lafarge and their desecration of the landscape enough and expect the council to back us in any further attempt by them to spoil the area.

Plans for a sand and gravel quarry in South Oxfordshire have been thrown in doubt following a decision by English Heritage to recommend protection for a Bronze Age barrow cemetery.

Gloucestershire County Council has refused permission for sand and gravel extraction at a site near Tewkesbury because of concerns about noise, dust and visual impact.

Planning applications for quarries tend to evoke similar negative reactions country wide. One community feels so strongly that it is not only raising money for professional help, but has, for more than five years, been producing its own ‘shadow’ environmental impact assessment. Plainly it feels that it cannot trust the environmental impact assessment produced by consultants working on behalf of the minerals company.

Mineral companies like to greenwash their activities by talking about the work they do for endangered species - the MPA's Christmas card being an example - but scientists have confirmed that Holcim - Aggregate Industries' parent company, a Swiss cement conglomerate that is "striving to achieve better biodiversity conservation" - has, by years of quarrying in "an internationally recognised hotspot of invertebrate biodiversity", not saved, not protected, but "caused the extinction of a number of species".