Tuesday, 12 September 2017

So, what’s AI planning to do?

Aggregate Industries' intention to provide a cattle crossing on the main road into and out of Ottery St Mary certainly seems to be making some headlines.

It’s not surprising that there’s so much concern. Apart from the potential impact on the A30, vehicles on this 60 mph stretch of road would start to queue just beyond the brow of this hill.

Back in May, DCC asked AI:
If [a cattle crossing] will happen as a result of the proposal then the impacts should be factored into the safety assessments and traffic calculations.
To supplement the grazing needs of the tenant’s dairy herd it will be the intention of the applicant to provide a new dedicated route for cattle from the existing milking parlour at Straitgate Farm to the land south of Exeter Road. 1.5
But no safety assessments or traffic calculations were provided. As we wrote last month:
Clearly nobody has thought this through. Or if they have, they've chosen to keep quiet. 
It was left to objectors and highways consultants Vectos to raise concerns:
So what’s AI’s plan? Is AI going to assess the impact? Or is it looking to DCC to find a fix?

Does AI need to assess the impact? DCC’s Reg22 request certainly thought so; it was the number one thing AI had to answer. The legal advice we’ve received is also clear: a cattle crossing would be a consequence of the development, and should have been addressed in the Transport Assessment. Moreover, AI’s application is subject to an EIA:
The environmental impact assessment must identify the direct and indirect effects of a project on the following factors: human beings, the fauna, the flora, the soil, water, air, the climate, the landscape, the material assets and cultural heritage, as well as the interaction between these various elements.
It’s clear that the crossing could impact upon the safety of human beings. An average of almost 7000 vehicles a day was recorded on weekdays on this road in 2015 - before AI’s plan to add up to 200 HGVs a day. And who knows how many more vehicles there might be now, with all the new development in Ottery St Mary?

So what’s AI’s plan? Replacement pasture would obviously be needed to maintain a viable farm. AI says:
The applicant is the Landlord of the Agricultural Tenant at Straitgate Farm who has the benefit of an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 Tenancy Agreement. 1.2
What that benefit effectively means is that any notice to quit can only be served on the land needed for quarrying. Indeed, for Straitgate Farm:
... such resumption of possession not to terminate the tenancy hereby created except in regard to the land taken. 43
In any case, the farmer could already use the B3174 for a cattle crossing to access land to the south of the road as required, without needing any planning permission.

So, what is AI’s plan?