Ottery: Controversial 100-acre quarry plans near Ottery set to be approved

A controversial 100-acre quarry in Ottery St Mary is set to be approved this week at Devon County Council (DCC).

Joe Ives, Local Democracy Reporter

Officers have recommended approval for plans which would see up to 1.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel dug up at Straitgate Farm on Exeter Road over the course of 10 to 12 years. The materials would be transported 23 miles by road to Hillhead Quarry near Uffculme, Mid Devon for processing.

The plans, sent out for public consultation in 2017, have been a source of major controversy.

Some local residents are concerned about the impact of the new quarry on the local environment. There is also anger over the amount of CO2 that could be released to transport the materials.

DCC’s development management committee will meet this Wednesday (1 December) to make a decision.

Otter Valley councillor Jess Bailey (Independent) said she is “horrified” by the current recommendation for approval and is urging her colleagues to reject the application.

Hillhead Quarry, Uffculme. Credit: Devon County Council

Cllr Bailey said: “If the quarry proposal is approved, it will have a devastating impact on our community. As the ward member, I shall be strongly urging the planning committee to reject the officials’ recommendation and vote against the quarry.”

She argues that the quarry “flies in the face of the climate change emergency,” adding, “It is hard to believe that in this day and age we are still contemplating such a level of environmental destruction.”

Straitgate Action Group, a campaign group against the plans, says it will be protesting outside of County Hall ahead of the vote.

The application is being made by Aggregate Industries UK Ltd, a Leicestershire-based building material manufacturer and supplier.

The processing plant at Hillhead was built in 2018 with planning permission granted for processing material within its 91-hectare quarry area. Further planning permission is needed when bringing in material from elsewhere such as Straitgate Farm.

Councillor Jess Bailey stands on Birdcage lane, near the planned entrance to the new quarry. Credit: Jess Bailey

One of the proposed conditions for planning permission is to widen Clay Lane near Hillhead Quarry to allow two-way traffic. If given the go-ahead the operation will lead to up to 86 loads of gravel and sand being transported between the sites each day.

Hillhead Quarry is open between 6am and 10pm on weekdays and 6am to 6pm on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays and bank holidays. The same hours would be maintained if the new planning application is approved.

The decision is going to DCC as it is the ‘mineral planning authority’ for the area. A mineral planning authority can be an upper-tier council, a unitary authority, or a national park authority.

If granted planning permission Aggregate Industries will have three years to start the operation.