Monday, 21 December 2015

As this blog enters its 5th year…

AI's planning applications for East Devon run on and on, careering from problem to problem, riddled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, fabrications and falsehoods. Huge questions still have to be answered before they go anywhere near the Development Management Committee. Here are just a few:

The question of what happens when all of the unsaturated material above the maximum water table is removed, and millions of gallons of groundwater storage capacity is permanently lost on top of a hill above flood-prone communities, at a time when flooding events are happening with increasing frequency and intensity; DCC has already requested that, "due to the nature of the flood risk downstream, betterment should be achieved".

The question of what protection is left for people’s water supplies, when AI proposes to quarry right down to, and remove all the sand and gravel above, the maximum groundwater level across the whole site. The question of the proposed Section 106 and who decides if the water is lost or polluted, and who picks up the tab if the cause is disputed; the question of the 60% of groundwater users not intended to be covered at all. The question of why AI thinks it’s acceptable to leave just 1m of soil post-restoration between the surface and maximum water table as protection against future pollution; at nearby Town Farm, where far fewer water users were at risk, Hanson made it clear that "Post restoration (including the placement of soils) the resulting ground surface will be at least 2m above the water table".

The question of soil storage, after AI conceded it has no rights to use 3rd party land for this purpose; the question therefore of revised plans and new boundaries; the question of 340,000m3 of top soil and overburden - enough to take out another 42 acres of farmland if piled 2m high.

The question of continued processing at Blackhill, when AI can’t demonstrate the "exceptional circumstances" required by the NPPF for continued working in an AONB.

The question of importing a million tonnes of nitrate-rich soils from a dairy farm into a nitrate-sensitive wildlife site of European importance.

The question of the absent tree planting and dormouse mitigation, when 2km of their ancient hedgerow habitat is proposed to be grubbed up; NPPF: "...local planning authorities should aim to conserve and enhance biodiversity by applying the following principles: if significant harm resulting from a development cannot be avoided (through locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts), adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission should be refused".

The question of site access. AI’s plans rely on the use of 3rd party land - outlined below in yellow. Having conceded it has no rights for soil and overburden storage, staff facilities, wheel washes or footpaths on this 3rd party land, AI can't produce the relevant lease to prove it has rights of access either. AI has now confirmed in writing that "the Company would need to revise the quarry development proposals".

AI must surely rue the day it came across Straitgate Farm. 2016 will be interesting - one way or another.

We wish readers a Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year.