Friday, 4 September 2015

Gravel at Hillhead

If anybody gets to the small print of Devon's new draft Minerals Plan, they will find the statement:
Information provided by the operator since 2011 indicates that the proportion of crushable gravel… within the BSPB decreases from south to north. While the proportion of crushable gravel in the Ottery St Mary area is not significantly lower than at the existing Blackhill and Venn Ottery quarries, the resource around Uffculme is much less gravel-rich. This further supports the need to consider future sand and gravel supply from both the northern and southern options. [our emphases] Minerals Topic Paper 4.1
As we’ve seen with Aggregate Industries’ planning application for Straitgate Farm, "information provided by the operator" is not always a good guide - if the figures on resource, overburden, silt and need are anything to go by.

However, if there is any shortage of gravel around Uffculme then it didn’t stop Hillhead Quarry operating for decades:
If there is any shortage of gravel from south to north then it doesn’t stop Hanson working Town Farm Quarry near Burlescombe, north of Uffculme.

If there is any shortage of gravel around Uffculme then it won't stop AI from applying to quarry Penslade if its application for Straitgate founders.

If there is any shortage of gravel then why did AI’s Estates Manager, in a relation to a query about Penslade's resource, say that there was a "similar quality at Straitgate as at Uffculme"?

If there is any shortage of gravel then it hasn't stopped DCC from relying on Penslade to cover the sand and gravel shortfall indicated in its Minerals Plan.

Nevertheless, it suits DCC to buy in to AI’s argument. It suits its misguided reasoning that:
Retention of working within the northern and southern areas was considered to be the most sustainable option as it would minimise the distances that sand and gravel will need to be transported to major markets such as Exeter and Taunton. Pursuit of this option was also considered to provide greater flexibility to respond to future changes in demand 4.15
But the illogic of that statement is quickly exposed in the Council’s own Sustainability Appraisal Report:
Note: It is not the intention of the Devon Minerals Plan for simultaneous sand and gravel extraction to occur at West of Penslade Cross and Straitgate Farm…
In which case, it’s not clear how maintaining northern and southern areas would minimise any transport distances, particularly when Straitgate, the southern area, entails - as it stands - a processing proposal of 1.2 million miles, and the northern area - capable of supporting on-site processing - zero miles.