Monday, 13 March 2017

Does anyone from AI ever sense-check this stuff?

Five years or more in preparation, not far off two years since the last application, you would have thought that Aggregate Industries' revised planning application to extract 1.5 million tonnes of as-dug sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm would have ironed out some of the gremlins by now. But no. AI claims:
This planning application addresses all those concerns raised during the first application and provides a comprehensive resubmission.
But AI can’t even make up its mind about the area of "mineral extraction"; the Supporting Statement and Chapter 3 of the Environmental Statement say 25.6ha; the Landscape and Visual Impact and Ecology Reports are convinced it's 24.6ha.

The Supporting Statement says "ECC Quarries... in 1969 [sic] had planning permission refused for mineral extraction following a public inquiry, the issue being one of prematurity", but as the EA reminded us for the Minerals Plan:

The Non Technical Summary tells us that "During operational periods, the site would be worked between the hours of 09.00 and 17.30 Monday to Friday" and that "Mineral transport will be between 07.00 and 18.00". But something’s not right, because trucks don’t load themselves for 2 hours.

The Landscape and Visual Impact Report tells us that "isolated residential properties lie in close proximity to the east of the site, such as... The Green". But try finding The Green.

The Dust Report tells us us that "recent IAQM Guidance on the Assessment of Mineral Dust Impacts for Planning, 2016... now categorises the sensitivity of residential receptors as being ‘high’". AI's new application has the access, haul road and soil storage areas in completely different locations from the last application, but the report's conclusions are just the same; in fact almost word for word identical as the last report in 2015.

AI tells us in its Supporting Statement that "The number of full time employees at the site would be three" - for a part-time operation with 2 or 3 campaigns per year.

The Hydrogeology Report claims "there are eight piezometers within the potential extraction area", when clearly there are only 4 (marked PZ on the map below), and 2 of those have less than 12 months' data.

In the Transport Assessment, AI's quarry manager tells us "of a planning application to extract circa 1.6 million tonnes of sand and gravel from Straitgate Farm". But if AI’s quarry manager can’t even get that number right in a planning application, how could you trust how far down he would dig into the aquifer supplying peoples' drinking water?

The Flooding Report tells us that "DCC have requested additional detail regarding the management of runoff generated in the ancillary service areas and new access road from Birdcage Lane", but Amec doesn't seem to know where they are, and locates them at the north of the site, not the south east corner.

And for anyone who remembers Colemanballs, here's that Transport Assessment again, which, when talking about "Access to Hillhead Quarry", comes up with:
The road safety data reviewed in Section 5 above indicates that there have been no collisions involving quarry vehicles over the five year study period, although it is acknowledged that Hillhead Quarry has been dormant over this period.