The moral of this story? question anything and everything a developer says or promises.
“Environmental campaigners have said it would be ‘morally and ecologically wrong’ to allow proposed expansion business units at Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury.
The scheme, for the proposed expansion of Blackhill Engineering, is seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of general industrial floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure.
The proposed development is located within the area that is currently being turned into a nature reserve, which was previously used as the processing area for extracted minerals and latterly for the processing of material transported to the site from other quarries.
The processing plant in “Area 12” is being removed as planned and the area was to be restored to heathland.
But Tony Bennett, from Wild Woodbury, has said that the plans would seek to reverse this restoration plan and the “U-turn” would be a huge blow to the environment as it sits within one of the most highly protected and scientifically important areas of countryside in Europe.
Mr Bennett added: “The heathland restoration plan represented a prime opportunity to turn a significant area of industrial wasteland into a nature reserve that will benefit everyone. The U-turn would make a mockery of the Conservative government’s new environmental initiative entitled “A green future – Our 25 year plan to Improve the Environment”.
“Lowland heaths are wild open areas similar to Moorland, and Woodbury Common is one of the few areas of it that are left in the UK. With regards to flora & fauna the Pebblebed heaths are home to many important species including rare butterflies such as the pearl-bordered fritillary and silver-studded blue, 24 types of dragonfly and damselfly, and innumerable rare plants. Notable birds include the hobby, the nocturnal nightjar, hen harrier and the elusive Dartford warbler. Deer, foxes, rabbits & hares, several species of rare bats, and many other mammals also make it their home.
“The application shows a total disregard for public opinion. The applicant states that it was not considered necessary to carry out a “formal community consultation exercise” as the site is “remote from any settlement”. By allowing this area to be used for industrial purposes the public are being deprived of access to an area that should be heathland.
“There will be a massive increase in number of cars using an already over stretched local road network. More huge heavy transporters and low-loaders will be bringing materials to and from the industrial site causing congestion and damage to roads that are too narrow and unsuitable for this type of vehicle. “Indeed complaints from residents of the nearby towns and parish councils about traffic problems, and the unsuitability of the location was one of the main reasons that the processing plant in area 12 was closed down.
“This extremely sensitive area should be restored – not degraded by further industry. It would be morally and ecologically wrong to allow development in this area.”
Woodbury parish council have also voted to object to the application.
The application says: “Quarrying operations within the site have diminished and the existing sifting and grading plant structures which remain on site today are largely redundant. It is proposed that they are removed, allowing new development to take place and to facilitate the expansion of the existing Blackhill Engineering business, as there is a clearly identified need to expand the existing premises on the adjoining land.
“The proposal is to construct three separate buildings units that would be clustered around an open service yard and the existing site entrance would be used to provide access to the scheme.
“Blackhill Engineering’s operations have grown substantially in recent years and their existing facilities are now at capacity. As a result, the existing facilities are unable to facilitate further growth of the business, and if they are to remain in their current premises, they now need to expand their operations onto the application site.
“The proposed development would be within the area that the existing quarry equipment is currently located, which would in turn be removed.”
East Devon District Council planners will determine the fate of the planning application.”