The Environment Agency and Natural England have objected because of devastating environmental destruction that could be caused by disturbing an underground watercourse that feeds ancient woodland.

The EA also stated that they did not believe that this aspect was possible to mitigate, as it was so significant and damaging.

I await the responses of the Environment Agency and Natural England, to Aggregate Industries attempts at mitigation.

I have asked for clarification on which consultees have seen the reports and asked for copies of the reports.

This week, Aggregate Industries also undertakes more drilling at Straitgate Farm, to install six new groundwater monitoring boreholes, to monitor groundwater over a longer period than has happened previously

The text below this line is based on an email from a DCC officer.  Devon County Council is proposing to include Straitgate Farm in its minerals plan, which would mean that a planning application from Aggregate Industries would be almost certainly approved.  I have asked when the planning committee is likely to consider the proposals.
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Aggregate Industries last week submitted additional information to support their view that Straitgate Farm should be allocated in the County Council’s Minerals Plan, and to address some of the concerns raised by consultees in response to last year’s consultation on sand and gravel sites.

There are two reports provided:
(a) a Hydrological Position Statement, based on the investigations that Aggregate Industries’ consultants have been undertaking.  This identifies the risks to:
– local water supplies
– water-sensitive habitats and flooding
– reports on the investigations of groundwater and surface water flows
– discusses the potential impacts of quarrying and changes to the water regime
– identifies mitigation measures that should be incorporated in any working scheme and outlines the further monitoring work required.

The conclusions apparently suggest that mineral extraction can be undertaken without causing significant impacts on the water environment, if the mitigation measures achieve the maintenance of groundwater flows and the loss of aquifer storage is offset by on-site storage of water.

(b) a report on Landscape Proposals and Aftercare, which provides an outline scheme for the working of the site, including advance planting, phased extraction and restoration. 

The final restoration would be to agriculture (grazing) with new hedge banks and areas of woodland, and a new footpath is proposed around the west and north boundaries to link up with existing rights of way.  Vehicular access is shown to the north onto Birdcage Lane close to where it joins the old A30 adjacent to where the later passes beneath the new A30.

This information will be forwarded to the relevant consultees, including the Environment Agency, to obtain their advice on whether the information provided is sufficient and the conclusions reasonable. 

A report will be considered by the Development Management Committee and/or its Member Working Group, in due course, on how to make provision in the Minerals Plan for sand and gravel, including site allocations. 

For more information about plans for a quarry at Straitgate Farm see http://straitgateactiongroup.blogspot.co.uk/

Photograph: A view of the proposed quarry area (80-100 acres) from East Hill.