Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Blackhill restoration doesn't need Straitgate

Another one of Aggregate Industries' claims, is that material from Straitgate would allow it to finish restoring Blackhill:
...the applicant would submit that there are benefits to the local biodiversity and landscape that would result from permitting the continued operation at Blackhill Quarry for a further 5 years. 2.35
In the absence of this development the existing lagoon will remain as a deep, steep sided, angular lagoon, which is incongruous within the wider landscape setting of the AONB and Pebblebed Heaths. 4.1 EMMP
The silt from Straitgate development will enable the existing south-eastern silt lagoon to be filled and restored as heathland in accordance with the consented restoration and aftercare scheme. 3.26
But the consented restoration and aftercare scheme says nothing of the sort. It does not rely on the importation of further material to complete the restoration of Area 6 (Lagoon 3), the area in question; the agreed restoration scheme calls for the wall of this steep sided, angular lagoon to be removed:
On completion of silting operations at the end of 2016, the eastern wall will be clear felled and the timber removed from the site and soils will be stripped and stored for use in the restoration of the area. The eastern wall will then be removed to a depth of 3 metres above the surface of the drying silt. The material from the wall will be used with other indigenous material to form a capping to the silt body, approximately 1 metre in depth, and to batter the side slopes. The soils will be thinly spread over the whole area. 4.8.3
As a DCC officer explained, if material from Straitgate were not available, the already agreed earthworks would produce a perfectly acceptable landform.

AI is prepared to say anything to win permission to stay at Blackhill, whether true or not. 

AI was granted planning permission to continue to process material at Blackhill in 2011, with Condition 7:
The restoration shall be carried out in accordance with the approved scheme, or such alternative schemes as may be subsequently approved in writing by the MPA.
AI would be contravening this Planning Condition if the site were left with a "deep, steep sided, angular lagoon, which is incongruous within the wider landscape".

What message would that send out, at a time when it's trying to persuade people to trust its restoration plans for Straitgate?