Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Natural England objects to the importation of Hillhead material to Blackhill

Another spanner in the works for Aggregate Industries. This response from Natural England, in relation to the company's planning application to import material from Hillhead to Blackhill, could have huge ramifications for the Straitgate application, and must surely be the final nail in the coffin for AI's plan to import a million tonnes of nitrate-rich material from a dairy farm to the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths.

At the current time, Natural England does not concur with the applicants view that the importation of the proposed material will not have an adverse effect on the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths SSSI/SAC for the following reasons:
1) The unit of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths adjacent to Blackhill Quarry contains sensitive wetland habitats including areas of M14 - Schoenus nigricans-Narthecium ossifragum mire which is dependent on low nutrient status. This habitat is more sensitive than any other wetland habitats and is very sensitive to any nutrient change. In the area adjoining Blackhill quarry, this habitat occurs in some parts of the valley-bottom mires and towards the headwaters of the two main valleys...
...We recommend [your authority] obtain the following information or consider the following to help undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment:
1) The potential implications the raised PH levels of the imported material may have on the sensitive habitats of the adjoining designated site. Particularly the impacts of long term leaching from the solid material with a higher PH that is proposed to fill the settlement lagoons.
2) The long term impact of filling the settlement lagoons with imported material with a high phosphorus content and the risk of continued leaching of Phosphorous into the designated site overtime.