Monday, 6 February 2017

AI's asphalt plant at Rockbeare continues to operate without permission

Whilst a 'Towering inferno at an Aggregate Industries Express Asphalt plant in Greater Manchester proved 'awkward' for firefighters' and 'could have been extremely dangerous', the company's asphalt plant at Rockbeare in Devon continues to operate without permission.

Last May, AI submitted a planning application, DCC/3867/2016, to retain the plant. AI has been operating the asphalt plant at Rockbeare without planning permission since 2014.  According to its own supporting statement:
3.1 The existing asphalt plant was permitted, in its current location, under planning permission 99/P0568 (see Appendix 1). Under condition 8 of this permission, the asphalt plant was time limited by way of requiring removal of the plant upon cessation of mineral extraction. Condition 8 states:
“Unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Mineral Planning Authority, upon completion of the mineral working at the mineral site, the plant hereby approved shall be removed and the area restored in accordance with details to be submitted pursuant to Review of Old Mineral Permission No.7/11/98/P0050.
Reason: To ensure satisfactory restoration in the interests of visual amenity.”
3.3 Mineral extraction ceased at Rockbeare Quarry (Marshbroadmoor) in 2014. The purpose of this planning application is to seek the permanent retention of the asphalt plant, aggregate store and associated facilities.
Extraction at next door Marshbroadmoor may have ceased in 2014... but since none of this mineral was ever processed at Rockbeare that date seems immaterial. What does seem material is, as AI pointed out in its planning application for Straitgate Farm, that "mineral processing was last carried out at Rockbeare in 1994" [5.36] when "most of the production was used on a daily basis by the on-site asphalt plant and the Charcon Concrete Products Factory (now closed)".
We made the point that if mineral processing - and production of a sand and gravel feedstock for the asphalt plant - is no longer carried out at Rockbeare:
Why should Rockbeare continue to be a suitable and sustainable location for asphalt processing? Why should the community permanently forgo the "satisfactory restoration in the interests of visual amenity"?
The consultation to this application closed in July 2016. DCC has since advised:
The deadline date for the determination of this application has been extended to the 7th March 2017 in order to allow further discussions and consideration of biodiversity off setting which may be required as a result of the land occupied by the asphalt plant not being restored for the benefit of nature conservation, as originally envisaged in the Rockbeare Quarry permission.
As yet, DCC and AI "have not discussed any specific sort of offsetting and where it would be".