Straitgate Quarry update

“Campaigners are calling for a public exhibition on revised proposals for a 100-acre quarry on Ottery’s outskirts that they say could impact thousands.

A controversial application from Aggregate Industries (AI) to extract sand and gravel at Straitgate Farm met with community opposition before it was withdrawn earlier this year.

AI confirmed this week it intends to resubmit plans in April, but will not be holding any further public exhibitions – choosing instead to distribute information leaflets to householders.

Straitgate Action Group was formed to fight the proposed quarry and says that if the company will not be using the narrow Birdcage Lane as its main exit under the revised proposals, HGVs are likely to come straight out on to Exeter Road.

Member Monica Mortimer said: “We have been writing to AI to ask when they will be holding a public exhibition. If they are planning on using the one and only main road in and out of Ottery then it will impact on thousands of people all day every day. It just seems a ludicrous proposal.”

The Straitgate plan relies on a linked application to retain Blackhill Quarry, on Woodbury Common, for processing material – a site that is due to be decommissioned this year. Delays in securing the Ottery site have led to AI submitting a new application for importing reserves from Houndaller (Hillhead) Quarry, near Uffculme, to be processed approximately 26 miles away at Blackhill.

Campaigner and county councillor Claire Wright questioned the sense of transporting sand and gravel so far for processing, with the resulting impact on roads and surrounds.

John Penny, South West estates manager for AI, said that following a review, the company will be resubmitting planning proposals for Straitgate and an extension to processing at Blackhill.

He said: “This is to address concerns raised about the transport of materials. Instead of using the more rural Birdcage Lane to exit the Straitgate site, we will be proposing an alternative site entrance.

“We feel this will provide a safer way for vehicles to enter and exit the site and it shows that we are acting on feedback from the community.”

Mr Penny said the Hillhead Quarry plan would be a temporary measure that the company has applied for ‘to allow the business to maintain aggregate supplies to the Exeter and East Devon construction markets during 2016’.

The plan for Hillhead Quarry is open to consultation until April 7.”