Monday, 17 October 2016

Inspector endorses Straitgate as a Preferred Area - but what about processing?

In the end, what was the point? All the representations - except from the mineral companies of course - made no difference at all. The Inspector has issued his Report on the Examination into the Devon Minerals Plan, and says:
I conclude that, with the recommended main modifications set out in the Appendix, the Devon Minerals Local Plan satisfies the requirements of Section 20(5) of the 2004 Act and meets the criteria for soundness in the National Planning Policy Framework. 111
So, three cheers for the Minerals Officer. Well done. After years of delay, years of not listening, years of expense, he can finally report:
County Councillors will be recommended to adopt the Devon Minerals Plan in accordance with the Inspector’s recommendations shortly.
But it's a farce. The Inspector has endorsed Straitgate Farm as a Preferred Area, "areas of known resources where planning permission might reasonably be anticipated", without knowing how the site would be accessed or where the material would be processed.

On access, he says: "It is proposed to gain access to the area off the B3174 Exeter Road at or close to the track serving Little Straitgate" 67 - but that idea has already been junked on safety grounds; so much for his report saying "I see no reason in principle why a safe access could not be constructed" 68.

On processing, he says: "Rockbeare Hill Quarry is favoured by the Council. The prospective developer states that there are a number of problems including water availability and the capacity of the silt beds. Nevertheless, it is an option that could be explored if Blackhill Quarry could not be used. 4" 71. However, if the Inspector had checked the apparent planning permission referenced in footnote 4, below, he might have been forced to conclude differently.
4Availability at Rockbeare Hill Quarry would also need to be determined in the light of an apparent planning permission for a building for precast concrete manufacturing (see representations 51/MM32/U, 33/U and 57/U).
The apparent planning permission was the one approved by EDDC on 19 September 2016, the one detailed in our representation ref 51/MM32/U etc:
... despite AI saying at the Examination hearings that the company would “look again” at Rockbeare if needed, the site was subject to a planning application from a third party shortly afterwards, “16/1464/MFUL Replacement of existing manufacturing building with new factory building for precast concrete manufacturing”, which was approved by East Devon District Council on 19 September 2016.
So, if the Inspector thinks "To my mind, the position at Blackhill Quarry is protected by the terms of the Devon Minerals Plan" 72, and if Rockbeare is not actually "an option that could be explored", where does he think the material could be processed?

Because if it was all so very easy, all so very where planning permission might reasonably be anticipated, why is Aggregate Industries and its merry band of consultants still scrabbling around after all these years, still trying to cobble together a cogent planning application?

Cllr Claire Wright's blog on the subject can be read here.