Decision day for contentious quarry application:
“As planning applications go, this one features such a wealth of shortcomings and unanswered questions.”
To build housing and roads, ‘lots of aggregate is needed’ – as was made clear from the then-PM’s pronouncement back in 2015:
The Government’s pledge to build one million homes in England by 2020 could trigger the approval of hundreds of new quarries, as mining companies ride roughshod across cash-strapped local authorities, campaigners have warned.
While councils insist they will abide by planning rules to reduce the impact on communities of new extraction sites, activists claim many authorities are already struggling to cope with the number and complexity of applications. The building industry’s demand for aggregate – sand and gravel – dictates the number of new pits local authorities have to establish, under rules contained in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Using market data from the South-west and South-east – two of the most mineral-rich regions in the country – six million tons of aggregate would be needed to build 100,000 homes a year – the equivalent of 100 new quarries.
The campaign against the application by Aggregate Industries to quarry Straitgate Farm near Ottery St Mary has been going on since 2015:
This week’s blog post gave the latest news:
Determination date set – finally
After more than 6 years, Devon County Council is now sufficiently confident to put Aggregate Industries’ disastrous planning application for Straitgate Farm and parallel application for haulage all the way to Hillhead, before the planning committee on 1 December 2021, at 2.15pm.
Agenda papers are expected to be published on 23 November, and will be available here.
The issue has become very politicised, with an independent councillor standing against the quarry:
Here’s her most recent blog post on the issue:
Her predecessor locked horns with East Devon’s former MP on the same issues:
See here for multiple pieces on the ongoing application and associated issues:
Here’s the final word from Chris Wakefield writing in the East Devon Watch blog:
Aggregate Industries’ quarrying plans for Straitgate Farm (Ottery St Mary) will shortly stagger to a final reckoning at DCC on December 1st. As planning applications go, this one features such a wealth of shortcomings and unanswered questions that Councillors due to pronounce on it are spoilt for choice in how to condemn it.
The most glaring contradiction lies between Devon’s declared climate emergency and AI’s incomprehensible plan to haul up to 1.5 million tonnes of Straitgate gravel (20% of which is useless waste anyway) 23 miles to Hillhead for processing – a plan about as sensitive to the climate emergency as the felling of rain forest. By any rational planning process this alone would render the application dead in the water, but institutional inertia in Devon County’s climate emergency response, its habitual resort to greenwash, and the inadequacy of a planning system built for a pre-climate crisis era could be enough, despite its obvious inadequacies, to violate the fundamental moral imperative to reject it.
Please note: Following a request from the Straitgate Action Group today [23 November 2021], the VGS has removed a section from the Independent of 2015 quoted above. Here is the full request:
We see you have written about the proposal for a quarry at Straitgate Farm. Thank you.
You have produced a quote from the Group from a daily newspaper article in 2015, concerning proposals for a quarry in Dorset. An objector from there contacted us at the time. However, the quote that was ascribed to us was either misquoted from a different party or entirely fabricated. It did not come from Straitgate Action Group; we have never said anything remotely like that. We would therefore be grateful if you would remove it.