Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Remember the years of delays

...in the preparation of the Minerals Plan, whilst DCC waited subserviently for Aggregate Industries to prove it could quarry Straitgate Farm without wrecking drinking water supplies for more than 100 people? This is how DCC summed it up for the Examination, in document CS06:
1.6 The County Council subsequently undertook extensive discussions with the mineral operator, the Environment Agency and Natural England to address the potential impacts of the working of the western part of Straitgate Farm on groundwater and surface water and consequent effects on water-sensitive habitats and water supplies. The key outputs of this dialogue are provided in PD61, leading to the Environment Agency’s statement that they "are now satisfied with the information submitted with regard to the allocation of this site and have no objections to the inclusion of the Straitgate site from the minerals plan". A key outcome of these discussions was clarification that sand and gravel extraction within the site would be through dry working only with retention of an unsaturated layer of one metre above the maximum water table, resulting in further reduction of the potential reserve to 1.2 million tonnes.
However, AI confirmed in its planning application that "...excavating to a level 1m above the highest winter water table level would reduce the saleable tonnage by approximately 300,000 tonnes" 8.77; in other words, leaving only 900,000 tonnes.

Nevertheless, at the Examination hearings, 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.

In so doing, the Council has plainly ignored the key outcome identified above, the one that allowed the EA to say that they have no objections to the inclusion of the Straitgate site from the minerals plan.

For those concerned about their drinking water, the Inspector has since recognised the issue:
I agree that there is a potential anomaly in the wording of the Plan. I shall be asking the County Council if they intend to address this point when the main modifications are formally published for consultation.