Thursday, 24 September 2015

Is this really the best way to 'safeguard' minerals?

DCC’s new draft Minerals Plan intends to safeguard huge swathes of minerals across the county - outlined on its interactive map as Mineral Consultation Areas. Since the risk of future quarry working, however remote, would be enough to put off most home buyers, thousands of homes could be needlessly blighted. Needlessly blighted, because most areas safeguarded would have little prospect of ever being worked.

DCC says it aims to conserve Devon’s minerals by:
To ensure a robust approach that ensures the protection of those resources currently or potentially of economic value, reflects Devon’s local characteristics and strikes a realistic balance that avoids protecting large areas of mineral resource with no prospect of future working, Devon County Council... has undertaken a detailed review of potential resources. 3.3.5 [our emphasis]
DCC states:
The inclusion of land within a Mineral Safeguarding Area carries no presumption that mineral development would be acceptable or that planning permission would be forthcoming for extraction of the underlying mineral resource... 3.3.8
But, since DCC says it has avoided protecting "large areas of mineral resource with no prospect of future working", the corollary is that the Council has only protected those areas that could be worked. Let’s list some of those areas that could be worked:

Woodbury Common & Castle, East Devon Golf Club, Bicton College & Gardens & Arena, Woodbury Park Hotel Golf & Country Club, Bystock Pools Nature Reserve, Aylesbeare Common Nature ReserveSouth West Coast Path, Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth cycle path, Squabmoor Reservoir, East Devon Way. Look at the map for yourself and see how many other nonsensical areas have been 'safeguarded'.

In correspondence, DCC says:
Both MSAs and MCAs exclude existing settlements (as defined by settlement boundaries in district councils’ existing and emerging Local Plans), as mineral resources underlying those settlements are effectively already sterilised, and also to avoid a disproportionate level of consultation between district and county councils[our emphasis]
but that will be no comfort to those with homes in:

Fairmile, Yettington, parts of Budleigh Salterton, Coombelake, Taleford, parts of West Hill & Higher Metcombe, Larkbeare, parts of Feniton, Colestocks, Kerswell, parts of Kentisbeare, Smithincott, Yondercott, Appledore, Hawkerland and Stoneyford.

Many of the deposits in these locations would be completely unworkable - see the Colestocks MCA, for example. Tick 'sand and gravel' to see the ridiculous size of deposit being 'protected' - not in fact economic at all.

And this is just for the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds.

This broad-brush way of safeguarding minerals appears to be a particularly lazy way of doing things, likely to bring distress to many. The majority of homes affected won't even have been informed about what is planned or that there is a current consultation.