Straitgate Farm, which is between Ottery St Mary and West Hill, is the subject of intense activity by the quarrying firm, as it appears to be gearing up for a planning application.

Last year, a campaign launched, following Devon County Council’s proposal to include the site in its minerals plan, which would mean the dairy farm was almost certain to destined for a quarry.

But the proposal was put on hold, following major objections from government consultees, Natural England and the Environment Agency, both of which were very concerned about the effect of disturbance to an underground watercourse and the effect that this would have on nearby ancient woodland and habitat, which is fed by the watercourse, or aquifer.

But last week, residents reported renewed activity on the site, which could be preparations for a planning application, or certainly a case for the land being included in Devon County Council’s minerals plan.

The email update states:

– The Environment Agency has introduced a Source Protection Zone (SPZ) covering part of Straitgate to safeguard the groundwater feeding the many private water supplies at Cadhay. (All individual supplies have a 50m protection zone regardless). This new SPZ means that Aggregate Industries (AI) will now have to drill more boreholes and undertake additional monitoring in preparation for any application. The depth of any permitted digging would also be restricted (AI have yet to provide revised estimates for the recoverable resource).

–  Consultants instructed by AI have undertaken the first bat survey at Straitgate Farm this week.

–  A dormice survey is now being undertaken around the site.

–  Hydrogeologists have visited the Straitgate site this week; they looked at the streams flowing from the site, and the ancient woodlands which depend on two of these streams, spoke to various local landowners, and assessed potential locations for flow-monitoring.

–  Ecologists will be visiting the site next week, with a particular interest in the ancient woodlands.

More information can be found at http://www.straitgateactiongroup.blogspot.co.uk 

Photograph by Basil Herbert.  Oaks at Straitgate Farm .