Monday, 14 December 2020

AI submits planning application for livestock crossing over B3174 Exeter Road

Aggregate Industries’ planning application to quarry Straitgate Farm has stirred from its slumbers. Last December, the company wrote to Devon County Council advising that: 
A planning application for a new cattle crossing over the B3174 Exeter Road is also being finalised for submission to EDDC.
Twelve months later, Aggregate Industries has finally submitted its planning application to East Devon District Council for a "Livestock Crossing over the B3174 Exeter Road incorporating Holding Pens." 

The application 20/2542/FUL is open for comments until 12 January 2021. It is important that local people respond to this application, raising any concerns they might have – either online, by email, or by post

This is an application by Aggregate Industries to facilitate its plans for a quarry at Straitgate Farm. This is not an application by the tenant farmer, or at the request of the tenant farmer. 

The crossing would only be needed for the dairy herd if the quarry were to proceed. Securing permission for such a crossing is therefore fundamental for Aggregate Industries if the company is to win permission to quarry Straitgate. 

Aggregate Industries needs a cattle crossing because its quarry plans for Straitgate would remove up to 87% of the available pasture on the farm: 
The area of the existing agricultural holding extends to some 120.78 acres (48.9ha)… The application site covers an area extending to some 42.5ha, with mineral extraction proposed to take place within 22.6ha with the remainder of the site occupied by temporary soil storage bunds, mitigation planting and site management and access areas. 2.1.10 
The 150 or so dairy cows that currently graze the site would therefore require alternative pasture, which is only available on the south side of the B3174 Exeter Road.

Crossings to and from the milking parlour would need to be up to 4x daily, twice in the morning and twice in the evening. Needless to say such a crossing, of such frequency and with such numbers of livestock, would not only be dangerous but would cause disruption to the flow of traffic on the B3174 – a fast and busy road linking Ottery St Mary with the Daisymount A30 junction. 

Aggregate Industries has proposed the livestock crossing close to the brow of a hill on this 60 mph road. Vehicles would need to stop for the cows just beyond the brow of this hill:

There have already been many accidents along this stretch of road – some recorded here

It’s not difficult to imagine cars careering into the back of queuing traffic. Aggregate Industries accepts the stopping distance to the west of the crossing is 55 metres "below desirable minimum." That’s a significant shortfall, when a vehicle travelling at 60 mph covers 27 metres per second and has a stopping distance of 73m.  

We have estimated that queues could stretch as far as Daisymount Junction to the west and as far as Taylor’s to the east. During the 15 minutes crossing times, over 100 vehicles can be travelling on the B3174 Exeter Road in one direction or the other. Aggregate Industries’ quarry plans would add up to 216 HGV movements a day into this mix – more than one every 3 minutes.

What could possibly go wrong?

The provision of a Cattle crossing over the B3174 may have severe impact on the operation of the B3174, which in the absence of assessment is not known.
the impacts should be factored into the safety assessments and traffic calculations.
No safety assessments or traffic calculations have ever been provided for the impact of such a scheme, neither are any included in the above application. Aggregate Industries has already experienced cows on this road. Here’s a scene from a few years ago when drilling equipment was being moved. 

Aggregate Industries’ application for the cattle crossing fails to provide a transport assessment, fails to spell out the disruption from such a crossing, fails to assess lengths of queuing traffic, fails to assess the impact on safety, fails to admit the frequency of crossings required as land is removed for quarrying, fails to assess the impact on emergency vehicles travelling to and from the hospital. 

Aggregate Industries is however up to its old tricks again, fabricating all sorts of tosh in its Supporting Statement in support of this bonkers plan:
6.1 In certain circumstances it may become necessary for the farm tenant to move the dairy herd over to the south of the B3174 to access other grazing land owned by the tenant’s family.
6.2 The new access will reduce disruption to vehicles, during periods when cattle traverse the public highway and increase safety for both the tenant farmer and road users.
6.5 The substantially reduced distance of crossing will shorten the time taken to cross the herd over the public highway and potentially reduce the transfer of mud onto the highway itself.
6.6 The proposed crossing therefore provides betterment to the current diagonal crossing point which both the tenant farmer and road users will benefit from. 
6.7 It is considered that there are no material considerations why planning permission should not be granted
It’s laughable. If this application made any sense it wouldn’t need to resort to such nonsense. 

Of course, nowhere does the application mention that this crossing would only be needed to facilitate a quarry, and then would be needed up to 4x daily for the duration of the quarry – for some 10-12 years. Aggregate Industries merely claims that "in certain circumstances it may become necessary...".

The company also plainly knows nothing about cows. Design and Management of Proper Handling Systems for Dairy Cows, on the other hand, tells us that "Cattle are gregarious and follow each other… Cows prefer to walk single file… A cow can walk at a speed range of 1.5 to 3.1 mph… A group of cows can walk at an average speed of 1.7 mph… When dominant cows in a group slow down or stop, the rest of the group will slow or stop… Subordinate cows will not walk past dominant cows".  

So let’s watch how all that plays out with this group of cows from elsewhere in Devon. Then imagine 150.


Previous posts on the subject can be found here for information: