Monday, 31 October 2016

LAA LAA LAA LAA LAA - who can keep track of the changes?

The NPPF introduced a requirement for mineral planning authorities to prepare annual Local Aggregate Assessments. By August 2016, DCC had produced its 5th Devon LAA 2006-2015. This document is currently at version 2. How many more versions there might be or when they will be issued is unknown. The LAA is obviously not a document that DCC wants the public to read or keep up with; nobody, other than the author, will be able to keep track of what changes between each version or each edition.

And changes do creep in. Take the Second Draft of the 4th Devon LAA 2005-2014 released in December 2015. This is what it said on the issue of gravel:

We posted some comments in Cozy relationships: We said
Take one look at DCC’s 4th Local Aggregates Assessment published late last year. Some of its conclusions are supported by references. When one of those references - backing the flawed argument for both 'southern' and 'northern' sites because the "proportion and size of gravel decreases from south to north" 2.5.4 - is taken from AI’s own undetermined-catalogue-of-errors planning application for Straitgate, you know you're in trouble.
We’ve already dealt with the issue of Gravel at Hillhead, and the fact that this didn’t stop Hillhead Quarry operating for decades, the fact that this doesn’t stop Hanson working Town Farm Quarry near Burlescombe, the fact that this won't stop AI from applying to quarry Penslade if its application for Straitgate founders, and the fact that this hasn't stopped DCC from relying on Penslade to cover the sand and gravel shortfall indicated in its Minerals Plan.
Indeed, one of the planning applications DCC received last year was the "variation of existing permission at Blackhill Quarry to allow for importation of sand and gravel from Houndaller (Hillhead) Quarry for processing to end of 2016 (awaiting validation)" 2.5.7.
But some people in DCC gave up listening to anybody other than the quarrying industry years ago. Consultation with the public has been a charade. In reality, Devon’s new Minerals Plan has been shaped by the minerals industry, for the minerals industry. Silly of us for thinking it could be any other way.
But how wrong we were. Some people were listening. Because by the Fourth Draft of the 4th Devon LAA 2005-2014, published shortly after our post, we find the reference to that undetermined-catalogue-of-errors planning application for Straitgate has gone, and a Table 5 inserted:

DCC is of course getting carried away with itself because, however much the Council might have prejudged matters, Straitgate Farm and Penslade are not, as Table 5 says, Pebble Bed Quarries. Furthermore, the percentage figures will still have been supplied by AI, and we know by now that numbers are not the company's strong point.

Nevertheless, the Hillhead ROMP application plainly indicates that AI is unwilling to see the Houndaller permission expire, and apparently sees merit in working the reserve - whatever DCC says about "the very low proportion of crushable gravel at Houndaller".