Why shouldn’t Straitgate Farm be quarried? Here's a summary, with more detail below:

  1. Concerns expressed by the Environment Agency, Natural England and Exeter Airport.
  2. The risk of birdstrike to aircraft flying low directly over Straitgate on their landing descent to Exeter Airport. Ponds and water left by any quarrying, and necessary if groundwater flows are to have any chance of being maintained, would attract birds.
  3. The impact on drinking water supplies - for 106 people and 3 farms - that rely on groundwater from Straitgate - an Environment Agency Source Protection Zone.
  4. The impact on wetland habitats in the Ancient Woodland of Cadhay Bog and Cadhay Wood that depend on streams and groundwater originating from Straitgate Farm. Cadhay Bog is rich in biodiversity and is thought to have been continuously wooded since the last Ice Age. 
  5. The impact on dormice - a European Protected Species - inhabiting the ancient hedgerows at Straitgate Farm, over 2 km of which would be lost should quarrying be permitted.
  6. The risk of flooding to Ottery St Mary from the 4 streams running from the site to Thorne Farm Way, Cadhay, Coombelake and Salston, through increased surface run-off and permanent loss of groundwater storage.
  7. The risk to safety on the B3174 Exeter Road (Ottery to Daisymount) from slow moving HGVs - up to 200 movements a day - turning onto and off this fast road.
  8. The impact on air pollution and CO2 emissions from hauling as-dug sand and gravel to Hillhead near Uffculme for processing - a 46-mile round trip, 2.5 million miles in total over 10-12 years.
  9. The risk to Cadhay House (Grade I listed) mediaeval fish ponds that are supplied by a stream that originates from Straitgate.
  10. The visual impact on the view from East Hill (AONB) and other parts of Ottery and surrounding area. Straitgate Farm is a prominent hill top site also visible from OSM Church (Grade I) & Chanter’s House (Grade II*).
  11. The impact on the setting of Straitgate Farmhouse (Grade II) built c.1580.
  12. The impact from the loss of a productive dairy farm - c.80 acres classified as the 'best and most versatile' agricultural land - and dependent jobs.
  13. The potential impact on water supplies to 380 acres of local grazing farmland, reliant solely on the groundwater from Straitgate via streams and troughs.
  14. The impact on Ottery St Mary's tourist economy.
  15. The impact on the archaeological remains of Iron Age and Roman settlements at Straitgate.
Further details, regulations and planning policies for some of these points:

1. Environment Agency: "loss of aquifer storage that would occur even through dry working... could adversely impact the numerous groundwater and spring abstractions down-gradient of the proposed quarry... We are unlikely to support any proposal that derogates any protected water right or is likely to cause unacceptable detriment to any environmental feature that is dependent on groundwater". 
Natural England: "... the site is BMV, the same area of BMV land should be restored... the Great Crested Newt survey has not been completed... tree and hedgerow planting proposed as mitigation for both landscape purposes and replacement habitat for the dormouse population may not yet be in place in the quantity identified...". 
Exeter Airport: "until such a time as the full planning application is received, has been studied and suitable and sufficient control and mitigation measures are in place... the airport maintains an objection to the proposals on the grounds of aviation safety".

2. Exeter Airport: "Under the Air Navigation Law, it is a criminal offence to endanger an aircraft or its occupants by any means." CAA: "Almost without exception, water developments increase the bird hazard in ways that cannot be adequately controlled.”

3. NPPF: local planning authorities should "ensure that permitted operations do not have unacceptable adverse impacts on… the flow and quantity of surface and groundwater and migration of contamination from the site". [143]

4. NPPF: "planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss". [118]

5. Natural England: the project must demonstrate that it can meet three statutory tests: "the project is for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety or other reasons of overriding public interest, and there is no satisfactory alternative, and the action will not be detrimental to the population of the species". The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010: "Protection of Species: The Regulations make it an offence (subject to exceptions) to deliberately capture, kill, disturb, or trade in [European Protected Species]... However, these actions can be made lawful through the granting of licenses by the appropriate authorities. Licenses may be granted for a number of purposes (such as science and education, conservation, preserving public health and safety), but only after the appropriate authority is satisfied that there are no satisfactory alternatives and that such actions will have no detrimental effect on wild population of the species concerned".

6. NPPF: "Inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk, but where development is necessary, making it safe without increasing flood risk elsewhere". [100]

8. NPPF: "Plans and decisions should ensure developments that generate significant movement are located where the need to travel will be minimised...". [34] "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". [95]

9. & 11. Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, 66 (1) "In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building or its setting, the local planning authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses".

12. NPPF: "Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land". [112]

15. NPPF: "Local planning authorities should... recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance". [126]

Leaflet produced for the DCC Development Management Committee meeting 26 April 2012

Group presentations to DCC on 26 April 2012 

West Hill Residents Association presentations to DCC on 26 April 2012 

Ottery Quarry Action Group presentations to DCC on 26 April 2012