Wednesday, 26 October 2016


It’s important to know who we’re up against. Aggregate Industries relied on consultants SLR for its last planning application for Straitgate. It didn’t go well. That application was characterised by a catalogue of errors, omissions and fabrications, such as this and this and this and this and this and this and this.

SLR’s been off the scene for some time now. Perhaps they were pushed? Perhaps they didn’t want the work anymore? Whilst AI obviously doesn’t mind having its dirty washing hung out online for all to see, perhaps it was too much for SLR?

If SLR doesn't return, the next application could see AI team up with David Jarvis Associates again. They've not only worked with AI on Venn Ottery and Blackhill, but claim to have "worked on over 285 quarries worldwide". They part authored a Quarry Design Handbook, required reading surely for anybody thinking of digging a large hole in the East Devon countryside. If AI had followed this guidance last time, it might have avoided some of the problems with site access:
… from the outset, it is necessary to establish who owns or controls the surface of the land within the proposed site boundary (including buildings, structures, uses or rights). No assumptions should be made and all documentation checked and verified… Ownership, and/or control (e.g. a lease or public land allocation or contract) needs to be established for ALL of the land which may be required for the proposed quarry operation including, for example, the mineral extraction area, access roads… 2.3
Local people might find pages 121-125 on public consultation interesting, the bit about "Engagement with people at a local level can bring the following benefits..." etc. It will be interesting to see what sort of job these experts make of Straitgate; interesting to see how much of that Quarry Handbook gets deployed.

In the meantime, Amec Foster Wheeler continues to be retained on groundwater matters, and continues to collect groundwater data from 13 boreholes across the area. Amazingly, this has now been going on for almost 4 years; read into that what you will.

It’s anybody’s guess how much money AI has sunk into the Straitgate project so far. Quarry companies worldwide would surely like to know what financial magic AI uses to make the numbers stack up - with less than 1 million tonnes of sand and gravel and a 50 mile round trip for processingBut then all miners start with rosy outlooks - just look at Wolf Minerals, and the problems it’s now having with its tungsten mine near Plymouth.