Thursday, 24 November 2016

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.