Tuesday, 19 April 2016

AI shouldn't have been surprised...

...when Natural England objected to the importation of Hillhead material to Blackhill last week - a proposal that sought to bring material with elevated nutrient levels to a site directly abutting the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths SAC; an objection that could put an end to mineral processing on Woodbury Common for good.

Aggregate Industries and consultants Amec had already had extensive communications and meetings with Natural England before the "Technical note: Blackhill Nutrient Investigation" was produced; both parties knew exactly what had to be done to allay Natural England's fears. Despite this, and despite Natural England's subsequent objection, AI "still wish to pursue this application". AI wants to have another go at persuading the statutory consultee, and intends "to provide a response to NE with the view to making June’s Planning Committee following re-consultation".

However, Natural England's objection could not have been clearer:
This habitat is more sensitive than any other wetland habitats and is very sensitive to any nutrient change.
In fact, as far back as 2012Natural England had been warning about Blackhill and nitrates - in relation to material from Straitgate:
Natural England has serious concerns regarding potential continued processing at Blackhill Quarry due to its sensitive location within the SAC. Although we have some concern regarding later restoration we are particularly concerned about the importation of waste material (including wet silts and water used to clean waste) with a higher nitrate content than that appropriate for restoration in a heathland area which requires negligible or preferably no nutrients. As Straitgate is intensively dairy-farmed, it would be impossible to prevent nitrates from entering lagoons at Blackhill if material were brought to Blackhill as dug.
Did AI think the problem would go away? That consultees would forget? Or not notice? AI may have got away with dumping any old material at Blackhill before - but this site is next to an area of European importance to nature conservation, and should be treated as such.