Councillors received a letter this morning from Aggregate Industries – the company that wants to create a huge quarry between Ottery St Mary and West Hill – stating that it will carry out groundwater and soil sample tests.

But Cllr Giles believes it would be irresponsible to carry out the work when there has been such heavy rain, with more forecast over the weekend.

In his email to head of planning and transportation, Dave Black, Cllr Giles states:  “Can you please do all you can to ensure that the proposed work DOES NOT take place during week commencing 26 November.

“The key argument that I have been making about the total unsuitability of Straitgate for development as a mineral extraction site is the effect that this would have on the underlying water table, and the increased flood risk in Ottery, Cadhay and Coombelake 500 feet below.

“During the very heavy rainfall this week there have been long periods when water has been coursing across Toadpit Lane and Birdcage Lane from the site at numerous places and cascading down towards Ottery. You will probably be aware that exceptionally heavy rainfall is forecast for this week-end and into the beginning of next week.

“In my view it would be quite reckless to do the planned work next week and cause disturbance to the water table and inevitably make the situation even worse.
I hope very much that you will be able to intercede with John Penny to get the planned work called off.”

Aggregate Industries (AI) is intending to carry out the testing for three days next week, starting Monday 26 November, which would involve the removal of 400 tonnes of soil.

The material would then be transported to Blackhill Quarry for processing and to assess the quality of the excavated material.  The remainder of the material would be returned and used to fill in the excavated pits.

The company says that there would be 20 HGV movements between Blackhill Quarry and Straitgate Farm, and that it will employ a road sweeper to remove excess mud from the road.  AI has also instructed its contractor not to convoy the lorries. 

HGVs would access the site from the old A30 and will travel to Blackhill Quarry along the B3180.

A number of groundwater monitoring boreholes will also be installed next week.

The decision on whether Aggregate Industries will be permitted to quarry here, is likely to be made by Devon County Council next summer. 

Natural England and the Environment Agency have expressed serious concerns about the proposal.

For more information about Aggregate Industries proposal to quarry at Straitgate Farm, click HERE.

Photograph:  A line of ancient oaks at Straitgate Farm.