Correspondence from Chris Wakefield:
Aggregate Industries’ quarrying plans for Straitgate Farm (Ottery St Mary) will shortly stagger to a final reckoning at DCC on December 1st. As planning applications go, this one features such a wealth of shortcomings and unanswered questions that Councillors due to pronounce on it are spoilt for choice in how to condemn it. The most glaring contradiction lies between Devon’s declared climate emergency and AI’s incomprehensible plan to haul up to 1.5 million tonnes of Straitgate gravel (20% of which is useless waste anyway) 23 miles to Hillhead for processing – a plan about as sensitive to the climate emergency as the felling of rain forest. By any rational planning process this alone would render the application dead in the water, but institutional inertia in Devon County’s climate emergency response, its habitual resort to greenwash, and the inadequacy of a planning system built for a pre-climate crisis era could be enough, despite its obvious inadequacies, to violate the fundamental moral imperative to reject it.
I think I’m too old to contemplate sticking my face to the road in protest (doesn’t appeal much anyway), but this is in my manor, and I am disturbed that my local authority might not rise to the occasion, even to protect our shared living environment.
The writer Ben Okri says he must ‘write as if these are our last days’. I agree that a sense of extreme emergency is immensely important, because these could be our last days – unless we are all prepared to take appropriate action. If our elected representatives don’t feel that urgency – and the moral responsibilities that come with it – they’re in the wrong job.