Wednesday, 4 March 2015

AI’s plans need to be put out of their misery

Most quarries use internal haul roads to transport as-dug material from the quarry face to the processing plant. In East Devon, Aggregate Industries chooses to use our public roads. From 23 February for 34 days, as a section of the B3180 is closed, this is AI’s 'haul-road' from Venn Ottery to Blackhill Quarry:

For the Straitgate proposal, this is the route that AI wants to use:

It is an idea that has already generated much objection, from local people and other bodies alike, and AI realises that hauling as-dug sand and gravel on a B-road, through a village, over Woodbury Common, may not get approval. But if you think a round journey of 16.4 miles for each load is polluting and unsustainable, some 1 million miles over 5 years, then look at AI’s idea for Plan B:

This whole thing is becoming a nonsense: A round trip of 28.8 miles, through the village of Woodbury, for each and every load over 5 years, to an isolated processing site in the middle of an AONB, SAC, SPA. 

The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths is an area where a stand-alone minerals processing plant, not next to an active quarry, would surely be regarded as inappropriate development, much like a quarry workshop in Shropshire green belt that was refused at planning appeal last year: would not be relevant once the quarry use had ceased as there would be no reason why the cutting of stone from other quarries only need take place here in this Green Belt location. 
After the quarry has ceased, to my mind economic benefits alone can be given little weight to justify the development, as again there is no particular reason why such a building needs to be in this location.
AI’s problem is that processing at Rockbeare may not be possible either. Not only does it have physical constraints with silt capacity and water supplies, but settlement ponds necessary for processing would have the same potential to increase birdstrike risk for Exeter Airport, as any water features would do at Straitgate.

AI is between a rock and a hard place and the decent thing would be to put its plans for Straitgate out of their misery.