But Devon County Council seems determined to try and overcome the problems rather than reject the site.
An interview with Steve Maddison from the EA was broadcast on BBC Radio Devon this morning, which also carried interviews with Ottery Rural’s Devon County Councillor, Roger Giles and campaigner, Monica Mortimer.
Steve Maddison said ‘a lot more more work would have to be done’ by Devon County Council before its proposal to include Straitgate Farm as a site for quarrying, could be taken forward.
Straitgate Farm is currently a working dairy farm and is around 500 feet above Ottery St Mary, which has experienced devastating flooding problems in the past, most famously in October 2008.
The three main areas of concern are linked to the damage that could be caused by a water course. They are:
– the loss of drinking water supplies to around 100 residents
– the increased risk of flooding
– the damage to wetland habitat, including ancient woodland
Mr Maddison said he thought that the risks of flooding may be able to be mitigated, but he was less sure about the other problems.
I understand that mitigation against the risk of flooding would include constructing ponds to hold the groundwater.
But Exeter Airport has objected to any ponds being created as they they tend to attract large numbers of birds, which are then at risk of entering engines of planes, which are coming in to land or taking off.
Cllr Roger Giles gave information about the steady drop in demand for aggregates due to more recycling, and the considerable local aggregate reserves available. He said there was no need for a new quarry. He also spoke of his fears for flooding.
Monica Mortimer said how frustrated she felt that Straitgate Farm had come forward for a second time as a preferred site for quarrying, following a major battle 10 years ago, which was successful in getting the site rejected from Devon County Council’s minerals plan.
Aggregate Industries declined to comment at all but Devon County Council issued a statement claiming that local aggregate supplies were running out. They said they needed assurances about the impact on quarrying on watercourses before they could take the site forward.
The statement seems to imply that they are still very keen to quarry at Straitgate and they are delaying a decision in order to try and overcome the Environment Agency’s objections. This was certainly the line that councillors were taking a few weeks ago during the update on progress relating to the minerals plan.
Anyone who has read the EA’s letter will know just how devastating the environmental impacts of quarrying at Straitgate could be. And the EA indicates in their response, that they do not see how the serious environmental destruction identified can be mitigated.
https://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/significant_irreversible_harm_would_be_caused_by_quarry/ – read my blog about the Environment Agency’s response to Devon County Council’s proposals to allocate Straitgate Farm as a site for quarrying.
Photograph: A line of magnificent oak trees at Straitgate Farm.