Tuesday, 26 May 2015

1.2 million HGV miles - and “no adverse effect”??

People were shocked when we posted that Aggregate Industries' plans to haul as-dug sand and gravel from Straitgate to Woodbury Common totalled a million miles. It now turns out to be worse than that, closer to 1.2 million (up to 200, but typically 140 movements x 4 days x 50 weeks x 5 years x 8.2 miles).

An AI Estates Manager told a local paper that the Straitgate application "is the culmination of three years of careful planning and the proposal has been subject to a thorough environmental impact assessment".

But this is the same environmental assessment that concludes that the air pollution generated from these 1.2 million HGV miles on an East Devon B-road would be "negligible"77,78  and would have "no adverse effect" on either the humans or the sensitive European-protected habitats along the route.

Naturally, AI will look to belittle its potential impact. But, as we have already posted, in one traffic survey in Exeter "HGVs make up approximately 5% of traffic flow and yet contribute more than 38% of the total NO2 emissions", and "according to the EEA, HGVs are responsible for 40-50% of nitrogen oxide (NOX) pollution from road transport in EEA member countries". Air pollution is said to be responsible for 600,000 premature deaths in Europe each year, and many other health impacts too.

AI's consultants SLR will produce their own figures, but whatever the spin, HGVs pollute - burning one litre of diesel produces 2.63kg of carbon dioxide, about 14g of NOX and 0.14g PM10. On the basis that a 44-tonne laden HGV produces 2.23kg CO2/mile, unladen 1.34kg CO2/mile, AI’s 1.2 million mile scheme would not only produce over 2000 tonnes of CO2, 2 tonnes every day, but would also put around 14 tonnes of NOX and 225kg of PM10 into the air for local people and local sensitive habitats to suffer.

And why? In 2010, AI said it was for financial reasons that it couldn’t put processing plant at nearby Rockbeare. It knows that won’t wash this time, so has come up with some new reasons - "lack of space especially for stockpiles and silt storage; and non-availability of process water". AI could employ mobile plant, or a silt press if it wanted to; in fact, Rockbeare had processing plant until 2000. But AI will say whatever it thinks is needed in order to win permission for its more profitable Blackhill extension.

But what of the longer term? What will AI do in 5 years time, when it looks to quarry other fields near Straitgate? Will it then look to move its isolated factory to an appropriate industrial location? Or will it just seek another extension on Woodbury Common as in 2002, 2008, 2010, and now 2015 - and put another 140,000 HGV movements past people's front doors, and through an AONB, SSSI, SPA, SAC

AI or DCC need to resolve this ludicrous situation once and for all, and the sooner the better.

Another one struggles to pass an HGV on B3180 near Tipton Cross