• Planning inspector endorses Straitgate Farm for quarrying in minerals plan

    17th October 2016 | News | Claire
  • The planning inspector’s report was received this afternoon which stated that a 100 acre sand and gravel quarry at Straitgate Farm on the edge of Ottery St Mary, should be given the go ahead.

    Straitgate Action Group – http://straitgateactiongroup.blogspot.co.uk/ has been campaigning vigorously against the plans for years. See their blog for details.

    My objection to the allocation of Straitgate Farm as a preferred site in the Devon minerals plan is below.  Unfortunately, the planning inspector appears to have ignored, not only local people and councillors, but also key consultees such as the Environment Agency which is concerned about the impact on the water table, people’s drinking water and ancient woodland.

    Very disappointing.

    It isn’t the end though as a planning application has not been approved, it was withdrawn earlier this year. There are still many problems and local people should continue fighting!

    ……………………………………………

    I strongly object to the Preferred Area status proposed for Straitgate. This status should be withdrawn due to the lack of any clarity whatsoever about where any material extracted from Straitgate would be processed.  There has been an impasse on this issue for years so I do not see it being resolved. 

    I also object on the grounds of access, which is also a huge hole in the plan. The current option so far has been objected to by highways officers. The current suggestion of access via Barrack Road, is clearly dangerous and inappropriate, given that Barrack Road is a fast road and on a hill. Slow lorries pulling out to join the opposite carriageway and travelling uphill could cause serious accidents. The planning inspector was clearly concerned about this issue at the EiP.

    At the Examination in Public (EIP) in May, the Inspector made it quite clear that these two issues were very much part of consideration of whether Straitgate should be included in the Devon Minerals Plan. The Inspector did not accept the DCC Minerals Officer`s argument that the issues of processing and access could be looked at after approval had been given.

    Processing cannot take place at Straitgate, nor at Rockbeare Hill, a position that the planning inspector agreed with at the EiP.  And of course Blackhill Quarry is subject to international nature designations and must have its operations closed by the end of this year, or risk contravening EU legislation.

    Natural England has expressed significant reservations about the prospect of material from Straitgate going to Blackhill for processing.

    Straitgate – Removal of 1 metre buffer zone above the water table

    I strongly object to the proposed removal of the 1metre buffer zone above the water table.

    The Environment Agency recommended that if working were to take place at Straitgate, there should be a 1 metre above the maximum water table buffer zone. I am very worried that it looks as though the Environment Agency’s recommendation may be dismissed.

    If this buffer zone was removed, working at the lower level, could:.

    – Pollute or restrict more than 100 people’s drinking water, which is sourced from Straitgate

    – Compromise a grade 1 listed building’s water supply. Cadhay House is key part of Ottery’s tourist industry. Cadhay residents and visitors and its tea rooms are dependent on the water supply from Straitgate.  Cadhay has magnificent medieaval fish ponds, which are also dependent on water from Straitgate.

    – Wreck ancient woodland and important rare habitat.  Cadhay Bog downhill from Straitgate is a really important example of ancient woodland that may even be wildwood, dating back to the ice age. It is a fine example of an increasingly rare habitat. It is dependent on a regular flow of water from Straitgate.  Should the flow of water to Cadhay Bog become sporadic, this habitat will be destroyed.  The Environment Agency has expressed serious concerns about this issue many times.

    I believe that these are strong reasons for deleting Straitgate Farm from Devon County Council’s Minerals Plan and I hope the planning inspector will do so.

    Pic: Aerial view to show extent of proposed quarry at Straitgate Farm.