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Written by Al Findlay   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 00:06

Claire Wright, who is contesting the Parliamentary seat of Devon East as an Independent, has condemned the “consultation” exercise carried out by Aggregate Industries, that could lead to the development of a quarry on the outskirts of Ottery St. Mary. AI is a member of the multinational Holcim Group, based in Switzerland. The company wants to develop the 100 acre site at Straitgate Farm and is intending to make a formal planning application in the near future.

Straightgate QuarryClaire Wright commented: “If the plan is approved by Devon County Council, up to 100 truck movements would carry sand and gravel along the inadequate B 3180 each day, five days a week for five years to Blackhill Quarry, on Woodbury Common, for processing. This is a distance of just over eight miles. These movements would create substantial pollution, noise and create additional safety problems on a road that already has a very poor safety record. However, it is my understanding that if permission to use Blackhill is not granted, the project will not proceed. I understand that Natural England have a large number of serious environmental objections to processing at Blackhill.

“AI have acknowledged that processing at Straitgate would not be acceptable. I cannot understand why the project is still alive. It will create no new jobs, will damage the environment, could lead to increased flood risk in Cadhay, Coombelake, Ottery and West Hill and will harm the local economy, which relies on tourism for a significant part of the year. Experts contend that there is no need for a new quarry. Devon has over eight million tonnes of reserves with planning approval. At current levels of demand, it may only be in 2025 that the county has less than the seven years of reserves required under the National Planning Policy Framework. Many organisations, keen to avoid serious environmental damage, have voiced their concerns, not least because very precious and scarce ancient woodland could be irreparably damaged and lost forever.

“Local residents who attended the consultation were not impressed and it seems to me that AI, keen to replace material no longer available from their other sites, will be the only winners if Devon County Council eventually approve this development. I see nothing but disadvantages for the people of Ottery and West Hill. It is environmentalism vandalism.”