Tuesday, 15 March 2016

AI wants to process Hillhead material at Blackhill - each round trip 52.8 miles

In November last year, we wrote that Devon's sand and gravel soap opera has taken a new and bizarre twist, after Aggregate Industries lodged a planning application to process material from Houndaller (Hillhead Quarry, near Uffculme) at Blackhill on Woodbury Common.

Following the supply of further information, that application DCC/3816/2015 has now been validated, and is open for comments for 21 days.

AI wants to process 100,000 tonnes of sand and gravel on a campaign basis at a maximum rate of 1,900 tonnes or 134 HGV movements per day:
6.12 While the distance travelled by HGVs will increase, when compared to those previously originating from Marshbroadmoor (Rockbeare) Quarry, the optimum route has been selected in order to avoid any potential significant adverse impacts on amenity by utilising the M5 motorway for much of the distance. The proposed route would see HGVs traveling from Houndaller (Hillhead) Quarry to Blackhill Quarry via Broad Path onto the A38 before joining onto the M5 at junction 27. HGVs will travel along the M5 before exiting at junction 30 onto the A3052. From the A3052 HGVs will take the B3180 from which they can access the site.
There are a number of distances mentioned in the supporting documentation but funnily enough not actually the one that matters; numbers always seem to be a problem for AI - so many times being wrong, misleading or absent. Because, whilst AI mentions Marshbroadmoor, which is 6.7 miles from Blackhill, what it fails to say is that Houndaller is 26.4 miles from Blackhill, a round trip of an incredible 52.8 miles for each load, or 185,000 miles in total; it's good to see that AI is thinking about sustainability again, and about CO2 and NOX emissions.

As we said before, this application makes a mockery of minerals planning in Devon; it makes a mockery of the draft Minerals Plan's claim that "Maintaining the production of sand and gravel from the southern and northern parts of the Pebble Beds is also important in minimising transportation distances" 5.4.8.

In its request for further information, DCC has obviously asked AI to spell out what exceptional circumstances exist that should permit the processing of this material in an AONB. The responses given in the letter below are frankly laughable. The NPPF is clear when it says that:
Planning permission should be refused for major developments in [AONBs] except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest. 116
The approach adopted by the Applicant towards AONB planning policy betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of paras 115 and 116 of the NPPF. It is clear from the Framework that major development in an AONB should be regarded as damaging per se. Para. 115 states that “Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.”
Any major industrial development in an AONB must therefore be regarded as wholly inappropriate and undesirable in such a designated area, thus the requirement of meeting not just the threshold of exceptionality, but also (wholly unaddressed by the Applicant) that of demonstrating that such development is in the public (as opposed to private) interest.
Plainly, AI is unable to demonstrate any exceptional circumstances to process at Blackhill.