Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Letter from the EA

This letter from the Environment Agency was dated 3 June but only made public today.

It was written in response to Aggregate Industries finally coming clean on how it hopes to win 1.2 million tonnes from Straitgate by assuming "a working base that coincides with... the maximum recorded winter water table".

Readers must be sick and tired of this long-running saga of the resource and the 1m. Prior to AI's resource statement, rushed-out less than two weeks before the Examination, DCC had been ready to concede that there were only 900,000 tonnes at Straitgate to reflect the "retention of a one metre unsaturated zone above the winter water table, as required in Table C.4 of the Plan" previously agreed with the EA, to protect drinking water supplies. It was a different story, however, at the Examination:
DCC argued blindly that the resource should still be identified as "Up to 1.2 million tonnes", even though AI’s resource statement confirmed that this amount could ONLY be achieved by quarrying right down to the maximum winter water table.
The EA has now confirmed, exactly as we had stated at the Examination hearings, that:
It is also notable that the applicant appears to be basing the present resource assessments on the basis of a hydrogeological model (highest water level) that has not been formally agreed.
Furthermore, despite AI having had years to work on groundwater modelling at Straitgate, the EA says:
We are... still waiting for a robust assessment of the risks that would result from this modification to the operation.
Whether DCC continues to push a resource figure inconsistent with the conditions in its own Minerals Plan, siding with AI and its resource of "up to 1.2 million tonnes" - when the EA has agreed to no such thing - remains to be seen.

There will, in any case, be a further consultation on any modifications tabled.