Wednesday, 10 February 2016

DCC refused farm-based AD facility in AONB

Aggregate Industries' plans for Straitgate Farm rely on securing continued permission for its Blackhill processing plant in the East Devon AONB. AI has failed to demonstrate the 'exceptional circumstances' required for such major development in an AONB.

On the issue of development in an AONB, a DCC officer reminded us of a recent planning application in the Tamar Valley AONB. DCC refused the application for the anaerobic digestion facility, saying:
1. The proposed development would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the Tamar Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty contrary to policy W12 and W18 of the adopted Devon Waste Plan. 2. There are no exceptional circumstances or need for the development which would override the reason for refusal set out in 1 above.
The inspector concluded that the proposal would have a less than significant impact and did not amount to major development, despite the importation of waste material, as it was small scale and utilised redundant land within the farm. Although it was in a sensitive location and the NPPF gave great weight to conserving landscape and natural beauty in designated areas, the AD facility would be screened on all sides and no higher than the surrounding bunds and buildings. Vehicles visiting the site would be of the type and size associated with farming activities.
Permission was subsequently granted.

We raise this because, notwithstanding the appeal, it would obviously seem illogical and inconsistent if DCC were ever to recommend approval for an isolated heavy industrial sand and gravel processing operation in an AONB, with hundreds of incoming and outgoing HGVs a day - after recommending refusal for a small scale farm-based AD facility that "would involve no more than 2 vehicles per day".