Monday, 20 June 2016

AI operating asphalt plant at Rockbeare without planning permission

Aggregate Industries has submitted a planning application for the "retention of the existing asphalt plant, aggregate store and ancillary stockyard/storage bays and the importation and storage of Recycled Asphalt Planings (RAP) at Rockbeare Quarry".

AI’s supporting statement reads:
3.1 The existing asphalt plant was permitted, in its current location, under planning permission 99/P0568 (see Appendix 1). Under condition 8 of this permission, the asphalt plant was time limited by way of requiring removal of the plant upon cessation of mineral extraction. Condition 8 states:
“Unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Mineral Planning Authority, upon completion of the mineral working at the mineral site, the plant hereby approved shall be removed and the area restored in accordance with details to be submitted pursuant to Review of Old Mineral Permission No.7/11/98/P0050.
Reason: To ensure satisfactory restoration in the interests of visual amenity.”
3.3 Mineral extraction ceased at Rockbeare Quarry (Marshbroadmoor) in 2014. The purpose of this planning application is to seek the permanent retention of the asphalt plant, aggregate store and associated facilities.
Indeed, extraction at next door Marshbroadmoor may have ceased in 2014, since which time AI has been operating without permission - in breach of planning conditions, but since none of this mineral was ever processed at Rockbeare that date seems immaterial. What does seem material is, as AI pointed out in its planning application for Straitgate, that "mineral processing was last carried out at Rockbeare in 1994" 5.36, 22 years ago, when "most of the production was used on a daily basis by the on-site asphalt plant and the Charcon Concrete Products Factory (now closed)".

When AI now argues that:
It has been demonstrated that processing at Rockbeare is not physically possible due to a lack of silt space and clean water storage, insufficient stocking and processing area and the presence of great crested newts in existing ponds. 8.37
why should Rockbeare continue to be a suitable and sustainable location for asphalt processing? Why should the community permanently forgo the "satisfactory restoration in the interests of visual amenity"? 

Is this just the sort of thing that would happen at Straitgate? Moving restoration goalposts? Breaches of planning conditions? As usual, AI wants to have its cake, and eat it too. This planning application DCC/3867/2016 was validated on 24 May, but is open for comments until 7 July.