Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Look what happens when a quarry company is accused of polluting a couple's drinking water supply

Is it any wonder that local people are concerned about Aggregate Industries' plans to dig down to the water table - without leaving the typical 1m unquarried safeguard - when stories like this keep cropping up in the papers?
A family are at war with a quarrying company after they claimed the spring that supplies their home with clean water has become contaminated...
Mr Simpson said: 'Our home is in a beautiful location and we were really taken with the idea of the private spring water supply that dates all the way back to 1860.
 'The water was incredibly clear when it came from the taps. If you held it to the light you couldn't even see there was water in your glass, you had to shake it so the surface moved before you could see it.
'But in 2012 everything changed and it was clear the spring had been contaminated because the water was coming out brown and dirty.
'That coincided with the operators of the quarry near our home being served with statutory notices for quarrying outside their permitted area for Blaxter stone, which built much of Princes Street in Edinburgh. 
'The family's water became unusable for drinking or washing, leaving the Simpsons with no option to buy in their water in bottles. 
Mr Simpson said: 'It has had an unbelievable affect on our quality of life. 
Mr Simpson tried to get a supply for Northumbria Water, but the remote location of Blaxter House would have meant laying three miles of pipework at a cost of £500,000 - which Mr and Mrs Simpson would have had to pay for. 
He did everything he could to force the quarry operators to accept responsibility and return the spring to its original purity. 
Mr Simpson has emails, obtained from a Freedom of Information request, between staff at the Environment Agency. 
In the emails they discuss a visit to the site and say 'there is evidence of the operators working below the water table... Suggesting that the quarry company are excavating below groundwater. 
'The quarry company, Northumberland Stone Ltd, deny their work has affected the water quality and insist that rainfall has in fact caused the change...
Of course Northumberland Stone deny it; no company would want to stump up half a million pounds. Let’s check AI’s proposed s106 again for Straitgate Farm:

Does that inspire any confidence that AI wouldn't do exactly the same?

What did the Environment Agency have to say about the couple’s plight, or should we say blight?
The issues relate to planning conditions for the site, which is the responsibility of the local authority. We're working closely with the council and operator.
And the council?
The operator at Blaxter Quarry has made significant improvements to the on-site surface water management and the council are in positive dialogue with the operator to ensure the further improvements are delivered within the agreed timescales.
How helpful is all that? For a couple that have been without clean water for four years.

The story above, about two people, was in two national papers; here's the other.

At Straitgate, water supplies for 100 people, 3 farms and Grade I Cadhay would be in the hands of one digger driver. What could possibly go wrong? And - with an extensive catalogue of ignored warnings from local residents going back years - how many nationals would cover the story if it did?

Monday, 28 November 2016

Because AI’s HGVs never do anything wrong, do they?

Aggregate Industries' traffic consultant at the Public Exhibition got quite worked-up with a number of local people (including a councillor), when genuine concerns were raised that the company’s HGVs could cause safety issues on the B3174 and to pedestrians on Birdcage Lane. We thought the purpose of such an event was to explain what’s planned and to listen to people's concerns, not to get shirty with them.

But hey, up to 200 HGVs a day, turning onto and off Ottery’s busiest road - perhaps people's concerns could be misplaced? After all, AI’s HGVs never do anything wrong, do they?

And, closer to home, who could forget this?

Picture: Simon Horn

Dr Dick van Steenis

Over the years we’ve had quite a few enquiries of one sort or another. Last week it was a phone call from Great Yarmouth to remind us of a successful campaign in 2010 to stop gravel extraction plans at Waveney Forest, also known as Fritton Woods.

The caller, a 'professional scientist', pointed us towards work by Dr Dick van Steenis, an 'internationally-renowned health expert' who has since passed away. You can read more about his work in Industrial Air Pollution and Asthma - A Failure of Regulation and in Poisoning the Poor by George Monbiot.

Dr van Steenis helped the Fritton campaign and warned of the dangers of air pollution, including from quarry sites:
Retired GP turned activist Dick Van Steenis outlined the shocking risks of chronic illness from proposed sand and gravel extraction at Waveney Forest during a packed public meeting and said it would affect thousands of households.
The heavyweight researcher claimed that toxic fuel and dust particles would cause diseases including heart attacks, cancer and emphysema.
Asthma rates would also soar…
"Particles from bulldozers, without filtration systems, rise 40ft in the air and cover a three mile radius," said Dr Van Steenis.
"Dirty oils produce particles that are classified by the EU as hazardous waste and should be banned. Emissions from one bulldozer is equal to 900 Volvos."
Dr van Steenis also helped a North East community in its battle to stop an opencast mining site:
Dr van Steenis claims that research shows that no opencast mining should be carried out within three miles of a population, making it almost impossible for development firms to find potential sites in England. The doctor, a former GP, said that tiny dust particles called PM1 and PM2.5 given off by opencast sites have been shown to have a detrimental effect on health.
He said: "The first problem is the bulldozers and the emissions they put out. Problem number two is the stuff that’s thrown up by the bulldozers – it is when these particles get into the breathing tubes that they start up an inflammation which causes asthma."
"It can also lead to health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and clinical depression."
"The fact is that it can only be done safely underground or three miles from a population - in Wales they now have a 500-metre barrier, which is still inappropriate but at least it is a start. In Australia and America they do it about 20 miles away from towns - it is only in England that it is such a free-for-all. The barriers need to be wider."
The caller also pointed us towards the study Living near opencast coal mining sites and children's respiratory health, which says:
There is now a substantial body of evidence linking ambient concentrations of particulate matter of 10 μm diameter (PM10) to respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, hospital visits, school absences, and other health outcomes.
The study was designed to compare rural and semiurban populations exposed to a mixture of background and opencast mining PM10 - that is, overburden, soil, and diesel - with populations exposed to similar rural background concentrations of PM10 only.
and concludes:
Children in opencast communities were exposed to a small but significant amount of additional PM10 to which the opencast sites were a measurable contributor. Past and present respiratory health of children was similar, but GP consultations for respiratory conditions were higher in opencast communities during the core study period.
This study looked at coal mining communities, but as Dr van Steenis pointed out above, and as we have posted before, sand and gravel quarries also generate significant amounts of pollution and particulate matter - which can travel extended distances.

This is obviously not something that bothers Aggregate Industries; its last planning application for Straitgate Farm put mineral extraction "approximately 70 metres" from the nearest homes.

Dr van Steenis claimed "no opencast mining should be carried out within three miles of a population"; AI claims 70 metres is safe. Who would you believe? An 'internationally-renowned health expert' or a profit-hungry mining conglomerate?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Processing Straitgate material at Hillhead - AI says “There is no alternative”

At the Blackhill Quarry Liaison Meeting this week, Aggregate Industries claimed "There is no alternative" but to transport Straitgate Farm material to Hillhead for processing; no alternative to the almost 50 mile round trips up and down the M5 and A30; no alternative to the 2.5 million HGV miles in total; no alternative to the 4000 tonnes of CO2.

But let's remind ourselves exactly what AI said only 12 months ago to justify staying at Blackhill:

For those who couldn't make the exhibition

Aggregate Industries held a Public Exhibition in Ottery St Mary yesterday to showcase its plans for Straitgate Farm. Here are photographs of some of the exhibition boards; others are in the posts below.

A few observations:

The number of people who signed AI's register of attendance - and not everyone did - totalled around 70; many of the comments left would have been on road safety issues.

Amazingly, for a quarry that would entail extensive preliminary work, a 2.5 million mile haulage plan, and a resource of potentially less than a million tonnes, AI has not yet costed the project! A young graduate has now been given the task.

In the space of a week or so, AI's plans have changed again; see how they have grown since the glossy leaflets.

AI says it will be submitting a planning application around the middle of December. The company would be looking for determination by the summer, and to be on site at Straitgate towards the autumn. Mobile plant will be installed at Hillhead in the new year. AI want to be transporting material from Straitgate to Uffculme by the beginning of 2018, by which time permanent processing plant is expected to be installed.

And why was Blackhill on Woodbury Common dropped? As we said all along, AI could not demonstrate the exceptional circumstances needed to operate in the AONB; the planning application to transport Hillhead material to Blackhill demonstrated that nutrients would have also been an issue.

AI's junction design - a few road signs, a wing and a prayer

Did Aggregate Industries really think those junction plans displayed at the Public Exhibition yesterday would allay people's concerns about road safety? Concerns shared by AI's last set of traffic consultants:
The southern option, onto the B3174, was dismissed early in the process on highway safety grounds 5.44
Is AI's current traffic consultant living in fantasy land? He said that up to 200 HGVs a day, turning onto and off Ottery's busiest, fastest road, off and onto a quiet country lane used by pedestrians, would not be dangerous. He said that he was experienced, that he relied on some special software. But he couldn't tell you how wide the opening from Birdcage Lane would need to be. He certainly didn't know about nearby Public Rights of Ways. He maintained that HGVs would have the required visibility without any hedges or trees being removed. It was as though he had never visited the site.

He said his designs were safe, but he had made NO allowance for pedestrians, NO allowance for school buses, school buses like the one in the photo here.

It was just a drawing. Just a wing and a prayer. It was laughable. It had not been OK'd by DCC. It made allowance for AI and nobody else.

DCC Highways had even informed AI about PROWs and making provision for pedestrians. Why did AI not think to tell its traffic consultant? Who knows? An oversight? Or perhaps making provision for people, the people who actually live here, was going to make things too difficult for the company's last ditch attempt at site access?

Water boards

A senior representative from Amec Foster Wheeler was explaining all about the water at Aggregate Industries' Public Exhibition yesterday. He was explaining how there was a chance, a small chance in his view, 1 in 20 if pushed to put a number on it, that people currently relying on springs and wells for their drinking water would suffer subsequent problems with their supply if AI's quarry plans were to go ahead. 

There were some interesting drawings. But don't believe everything you have read on those boards.

When Amec tells you that "Groundwater levels within the BSPB formations have been monitored since 2013 at 13 piezometer (borehole) locations", that's not strictly true, because two of those were only drilled this year. And look how few piezometers are actually within the site that AI wants to quarry.

Amec will now be putting together a new set of water reports to say why AI no longer needs to leave a 1 metre buffer above the maximum winter water table to protect water supplies.

It had previously based all its conclusions on the assumption that:
Conclusions such as:

Amec is now being paid to tell a different story.

AI is holding two Public Exhibitions at Uffculme today

Glossy leaflets have been put through Uffculme's doors too. Exhibitions are being held there today. Aggregate Industries says:
This brochure provides a concise overview of the reasons behind two planning applications which are inextricably linked that Aggregate Industries UK are currently finalising. The first application is for a new sand and gravel quarry at Straitgate Farm located 3km west of Ottery St Mary. The second application is to allow for the importation of as-dug sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm into Hillhead Quarry for processing. The Hillhead Quarry application will also include full engineering details for the widening of a 400 metre section of Clay Lane from its junction with the A38 to the entrance of the Hillhead Quarry/Broadpath sites...

Minerals Plan - 'approve it or start all over again'

Councillors at the DMC meeting yesterday were told by the Minerals Officer that if they didn't vote to adopt the new Minerals Plan - and with it Straitgate Farm as a 'Preferred Area' - the Council would have to start all over again. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the vote to adopt was unanimous. This statement from Cllr Claire Wright was however read out first:
There are many aspects of Straitgate’s proposed inclusion in the minerals plan that I (and many others) believe does not stand up to scrutiny, including the possibility of damaging an underground watercourse. This risks over 100 people’s water supplies, ancient woodland and flooding.
I am very disappointed that the objections of Devon County Council’s own highways department have been overruled, as well as the Environment Agency and Natural England on their concerns relating to the underground watercourse.
However, below is the most relevant consideration that I believe councillors need to address today:
Aggregate Industries have confirmed (at yesterday's Blackhill Liaison Meeting) that material from Straitgate could now only be processed over 23 miles away, at Uffculme. To include Straitgate in the Plan, therefore, would present a completely unsustainable proposition. 44-tonne HGVs hauling sand and gravel on 46 mile round trips - for 1.2 million tonnes, that would result in 2.5 million HGV miles on Devon's roads, and 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions!
This completely contradicts the sustainability aims of both the National Planning Policy Framework and Devon's Minerals Plan:
The minerals plan states:
"Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change is a key consideration and statutory duty for the Devon Minerals Plan, and will be a cross-cutting theme for the Strategy."
"Maintaining the production of sand and gravel from the southern and northern parts of the Pebble Beds is also important in minimising transportation distances to the main markets in Devon and adjoining areas in accordance with Objective 1 and Policy M1."
"Spatial Strategy (Policy M1) ensures that the distances that minerals are transported by road are minimised"
"This spatial pattern will also minimise the contribution of mineral development to climate change."
Chapter 4 of the National Planning Policy Framework makes it clear that transportation miles in any development must be minimised. A 46 mile round trip taken dozens of times every day is not in line with the principles and direction of the NPPF.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Glossy leaflets for AI's unsustainable plans land on Ottery doormats

There are a few colourful plans in the leaflet; here's one of them. But even after all these years, Aggregate Industries is still getting things wrong. Look closely at that footpath running along the south side of the Exeter Road - and then look at the Streetview below to see where it actually is, and how close it would actually be to AI's stream of 44-tonne HGVs.

What is planned?

There are some numbers in that paragraph, but as always the important ones are missing; the 2.5 million miles; the 4000 tonnes of CO2. Because Hillhead Quarry is over 23 miles away. Where else in Britain do HGVs travel almost 50 miles (round trip) to haul bog standard sand and gravel for processing? The papers are full of news about climate change at the moment, but it makes no difference to the amount of CO2 AI keeps pumping out.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

You might have thought

At Aggregate Industries' forthcoming Public Exhibition many local people will be interested in the HGV movements - the tens of thousands of HGV movements proposed over the next 10 years.

People will want to know about the impact on road safety from 44-tonne HGVs turning right onto the fast-moving B3174 Exeter Road, burdened with as-dug sand and gravel, crawling up the hill to the Daisymount junction. People will want to know about the impact on pedestrian safety from fast-moving empty HGVs coming downhill and turning left onto this quiet lane hitherto used by walkers. People will want to know about how these HGVs will increase the risks to other road users from overtaking. People will want to know about the road widening plans for Birdcage Lane and how allowance will be made for footpath users and school children.

It will be interesting to see how AI miraculously engineers two-way HGV traffic, pedestrian provision and drainage ditches into this narrow lane, without losing even more European Protected Species habitat.

If AI is indeed ready to publicly exhibit its plans and get some feedback from local people, the company must surely have had some sort of pre-application nod for its road junction designs from DCC, particularly for something so controversial, particularly as the other site access points have fallen by the wayside.

You might have thought so, but no.

Since the earlier plans that made no allowance for pedestrians, since the subsequent advice to AI from DCC about Public Rights of Ways, no further plans have been received by the Council; no further advice has been sought.

Perhaps AI is supremely confident. But then it was last time, and look what happened to those plans.

After that debacle in March, AI said:
Following our positive discussions with residents and a review of development rights, we will be resubmitting our planning proposal for an extension to processing at Blackhill. This is to address concerns raised about the transport of materials. We will be proposing an alternative site entrance. We feel this will provide a safer way for vehicles to enter and exit the site and it shows that we are acting on feedback from the community.
Well, AI's been forced to give up on Blackhill at last. But on the matter of access to the B3174 - the safer way for vehicles to enter and exit the site - this is what we were told last time:
The southern option, onto the B3174, was dismissed early in the process on highway safety grounds 5.44

More groundwater problems for AI

Aggregate Industries' Hillhead ROMP application has run into trouble already. The Environment Agency has told the company:
We object to the application because the applicant has not supplied adequate information to demonstrate that the risks posed to groundwater can be satisfactorily managed… groundwater levels within the site, and on which the mitigation of risk to groundwater is based (workings maintained 2m above water table) appear to be based on extrapolation of limited offsite data rather than being based on site specific data…. The BCL report mentions ‘reviews of nearby monitoring data’ but does not provide the data that has been reviewed nor does it elaborate on the detail of the assessment undertaken.
Ultimately we consider that it will be necessary to develop a formalised water monitoring and reporting plan that incorporates off site third party interests and groundwater levels on site. This is likely to require installation of groundwater monitoring points but at the present time we are unable to confirm that the piezometers proposed in the Environmental Statement will be sufficient in number or suitable in location.
The BCL report? In the ROMP application's Non Technical Summary, David Jarvis Associates say:
BCL Consultant Hydrogeologists Limited (BCL) has undertaken an assessment of the potential hydrological and hydrogeological impacts associated with continued sand and gravel extraction at Hillhead Quarry. The assessment concludes that the continued quarrying activities do not pose a risk to groundwater, surface water or drinking water supplies, nor is there any increased risk of flooding.
But how could they know? As BCL says:
There are no monitoring piezometers in the Application Area. 
The best approximation for groundwater level at the centre of the Application Area is derived from [borehole] BGS ST01SE19, which was drilled in the quarry in the 1960s. 
Where is that borehole? East of Broadpath Landfill, about 1 km away; nowhere near Houndaller at all.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Minerals Plan

At the DMC meeting next week, councillors will be asked to endorse the Devon Minerals Plan, and with it Straitgate Farm as a Preferred Area. DCC's press release, the one that claims "We have carefully considered all feedback" etc etc "We have worked hard with local residents" etc etc, also claims:
The Council proposed a number of modifications necessary to enable to [sic] Plan to be adopted... These include... recognising the latest circumstances and need for improved mitigation at Straitgate Farm..."
So let's check those modifications (in red) again:

Can anyone see any improved mitigation?? Because as far as local people are concerned, the removal of the 1 metre buffer of unquarried material, recommended by the Environment Agency to protect more than 100 people's drinking water supplies, looks the complete opposite.

The Officer’s report reminds us that:
On the matter of the location of processing plant, the inspector noted the nature conservation and highway constraints for Blackhill Quarry, but “would not rule out the possibility of an acceptable solution”. He also noted the potential availability of an alternative location at Rockbeare Hill Quarry as “a matter to be debated…at the application stage”.
But that's not quite what it seems either. Events have already over taken the Inspector and the Minerals Plan, because we now know that AI has no intention to process Straitgate material at either of those locations, but a completely unsustainable 23 miles away instead.

Remember DCC's justification for Straitgate Farm in the first place, 5.4.8 in the new Minerals Plan?
Maintaining the production of sand and gravel from the southern and northern parts of the Pebble Beds is also important in minimising transportation distances to the main markets in Devon and adjoining areas in accordance with Objective 1 and Policy M1.
Transporting Straitgate's "southern" material to "northern" Uffculme would total 2.5 million miles; so not in fact minimising transportation distances after all.

Next Wednesday, councillors will be a asked to vote on a false premise; how would they vote if the Minerals Plan were to detail a crazy 2.5 million mile haulage scheme instead?

Monday, 14 November 2016

Smell the hypocrisy

Many are flabbergasted at Aggregate Industries' latest plans to haul Straitgate material to Hillhead near Uffculme for processing; a proposal so polluting, so senseless, so unsustainable that it makes a mockery of any minerals planning in Devon.

Many are flabbergasted at some of the numbers:

Last time, AI's application was for a maximum of 200 HGV movements on any one day:

If AI gets permission to extract 1.2 million tonnes of saleable material at Straitgate, then with 20% waste that’s 1.5 million tonnes gross, as dug, that will need to be transported and processed. With an average truck load of 28.5 tonnes, that's 52,630 loads, 23.4 miles to Hillhead, 23.4 miles back; 52,630 loads x 46.8 miles = 2.46 million miles, a distance equivalent to a staggering 100 times around the earth.

What meaningless greenwash does AI peddle on CO2 emissions?

Whilst AI continues to act as though climate change doesn't apply to them, some companies are starting to grasp the urgency with which we have to change the ways we do things:

But then if you think AI is a company to see sense, a company to change its ways, you're forgetting what sort of company we're dealing with. See the post below Welcome to LafargeHolcim.

Welcome to LafargeHolcim

LafargeHolcim - the parent company of Aggregate Industries - will be the ultimate beneficiary of any scheme that destroys an East Devon farm, putting local water supplies and much more at risk.

We wrote about Holcim and human rights in 2013. Since then the company has merged with Lafarge. What do we know about LafargeHolcim? Have a look at a few of the news stories from 2016:
When you talk to those very nice people at the Public Exhibition, this is the company they represent.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Here we go again...

Advertisement in the Ottery Herald today:

An Aggregate Industries’ spokesperson has now confirmed that this planning application will be i) for processing Straitgate material at Hillhead near Uffculme, ii) for site access onto the B3174 Exeter Road from Birdcage Lane, and iii) for Straitgate to be worked on a campaign basis over 10 years.

Unbelievably... AI is now considering processing Straitgate material at Hillhead - some 23 miles away - an astonishing 2.5 million HGV miles in total - equivalent to driving around the earth 100 times - equivalent to almost 4000 tonnes of CO2 - equivalent to 1% of AI's total annual process emissions; AI has obviously no thought for sustainability, climate change, air pollution, the environment, even the NPPF:
"To support the move to a low carbon future, local planning authorities should plan for new development in locations and ways which reduce greenhouse gas emissions"
Does this mean that AI has resolved its issues with the Environment Agency over its proposed seasonal working scheme that fails to leave a 1m unquarried buffer above the maximum water table to protect the many surrounding water supplies? The Letter from the EA in June said:
In our meeting with the applicant in November [How many AI 'suits' does it take to have a meeting with the EA?] we agreed only to consider this revised method of working. It was agreed that a summary technical note report was to be produced by the applicant to address a number of issues. Other than some exchanges concerning the scope of this note we have received no substantive communication from Aggregate Industries since that time. We are therefore still waiting for a robust assessment of the risks that would result from this modification to the operation.
The EA confirmed today that that position has not changed, and that they have still not received any communication, any reports, any robust assessment of the risks from AI since that meeting.

Why's LafargeHolcim at the Marrakech climate talks?

As the world gathers in Morocco for the historic first meeting under the Paris agreement - called “COP22” - it does so with the unprecedented involvement of corporate interests who have fought climate action around the world, funded climate change denial and whose fundamental interest is in extracting and burning as much fossil fuel as possible.
But it's not just the fossil fuel lobby that's turned up at Marrakech:

As a world leader and advocate of the decarbonization of the construction value chain, LafargeHolcim welcomed the COP 21 Paris Agreement. We have since elaborated a set of commitments to cut our net CO2 emissions and reduce our dependency on natural resources. This is our 2030 Plan...
With this plan, we are turning our core value of sustainability into a set of actionable goals. One of its four pillars focuses on climate... Our presence at the COP 22 conference will be an opportunity to showcase how the Group is contributing to the global climate and circular agenda through locally adapted solutions related to waste, renewable energy and innovative construction solutions. All of these initiatives positively contribute to the UN’s goals for sustainable development – goals that we share.
Lest we forget, this advocate of decarbonization is actually "one of the largest CO2-emitting corporations in the world"; around one tonne of CO2 is emitted for every tonne of cement produced. LafargeHolcim may treat COP 22 as "an opportunity to showcase", but for others it's more important:

Aggregate Industries - part of LafargeHolcim - claims:
We have long recognised the consequences of CO2 emissions and how both the manufacture of our products and their use in the built environment contribute to climate change... there is a real focus and drive to minimise the environmental impact of all we do.
If that's really the case, let's look back at what AI has said over the last 10 years, and, more importantly, what the company has achieved:

In 2006:
In a watershed year which saw the publication of two significant reports on climate change and its effects on the economy and the environment, we have a clear message: it’s happening and we have to take action now.
In 2007:
Ten years ago we did not measure our CO2. In our first report in 2000, our reported emissions for 1999 were 228,267 tonnes of CO2. In 2007 this has increased to 450,390 tonnes, but this must be judged in relation to the significant increase in the size and output of the business.
In 2008:
Carbon remains a key focus for both us and society and with the Climate Change Act (2008) has come a new regulatory process – the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). We continue to work towards our 2012 target of 20% reduction per tonne of production from the 2008 verified baseline as detailed in this report.
In 2011:
We set a target in 2008 to reduce our total carbon emissions on a per tonne basis by 20% with 2008 as a baseline. This would mean that by 2012 our carbon impact per tonne would be 8.12 Kg CO2 per tonne. In 2009 this stayed relatively flat but since then has steadily increased to 11.04 Kg CO2 per tonne in 2011.
In 2012:
Controlling and reducing carbon emissions is central to a responsible environmental policy. At Aggregate Industries we have understood the impacts of our carbon emissions for some time... Worryingly, carbon emissions associated with logistics within our business have been working against trend, rising steadily for the last four years on a per tonne basis... By 2016 we will reduce process carbon emissions by 20% on 2012 levels in absolute terms.
In 2013:
Absolute process carbon emissions have increased against the 2012 baseline as production volumes have increased.
In 2014:
Our total process emissions increased to 420,132 tonnes CO2e as a result of increased production.
In 2015:
Absolute process carbon emissions continue to rise and are 20% above the 2012 baseline.
So for all the talk about LafargeHolcim being an advocate of decarbonisation, about AI recognising that it’s happening and we have to take action now, let's showcase again exactly how much AI has achieved:

* Figures taken from 2015 report, 2012 report (for 2012-2008), 2010 report (for 2007-2006), 2007 report (for earlier)

AI's had second thoughts about processing Hillhead material at Blackhill

Remember that planning application to haul Hillhead material to Blackhill on Woodbury Common? The planning application that would see sand and gravel trucked 74,000 miles in total to be processed in an AONB? The planning application recommended and approved by DCC? At the time we said:
In terms of minerals applications, you could hardly come across a more ludicrous, unsustainable proposition...
Well, it appears that Aggregate Industries has come to its senses. DCC has apparently been informed that 'AI will not implement the Hillhead permission'. Make of that as you will.

With AI’s processing operations due to cease at Blackhill on 31 December, when permission expires, it's our understanding that the company will now be installing mobile plant at Hillhead in the new year.

If AI has come to it senses to avoid a 74,000 mile haulage scheme, then perhaps we can hope that it would do the same for a 2.5 million mile scheme - the scheme to haul Straitgate Farm material to Hillhead 23 miles away, the scheme mooted by company representatives back in July.

So, with Blackhill out of the picture, with Rockbeare now permitted for new purposes and with Hillhead effectively 2.5 million miles away, how can AI possibly work Straitgate, or at least process any of the material from it in a viable, sustainable manner without the emission of thousands of tonnes of CO2?

DCC’s Minerals Planning Officer, the one who has championed the quarrying of Straitgate Farm for at least the last 5 years, the one who will be recommending that Councillors adopt the new Devon Minerals Plan with Straitgate as a Preferred Area, should perhaps reflect on that, and all the voices he ignored.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Dear Aggregate Industries