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Village quarry fears raised at Parliament

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

By David Shepherd

  • Nick Boles

  • There are new plans to extract sand and gravel from sites close to Uffculme

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OBJECTORS to potential new quarry and landfill plans travelled to Westminster to warn a minister of the dangerous consequences it will have on Mid Devon villages.

Campaigners fear more than 100 extra lorries will use roads in and out of Uffculme if Penslade Farm is selected by Devon County Council for a sand and gravel excavation plant until 2031.

The Culm Waste Minerals Group (CWMG) told Nick Boles MP, Under Secretary of State for Planning, existing quarry operators in the community have not invested to improve the roads in the village which struggle with the current capacity of traffic.

MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish, arranged the meeting to be held.

Joanne Ferguson, a spokesperson for CWMG, said: "The planning system regards (children) less important than newts and dormice. Network Rail has spent thousands of pounds protecting great crested newts that might get in the way of repair work at Whiteball.

"Yet it is acceptable for children in Uffculme and Burlescombe to be at risk of going under the wheels of HGVs and for the concerns of their parents to be ignored."

CWMG told the minister that Aggregate Industries, one of four companies that dominate the building materials industry in the UK, received retrospective planning permission in July for a bagging plant to serve Devon's construction market.

Campaigners argued improvements should have been made before planning approval and said Devon County Council once received cash from the Aggregates Levy until the funding scheme was scrapped in 2011.

The group said there are three quarries, two processing plants, two bagging plants and two block works in the area which have previously supplied the largest proportion of Devon's sand and gravel and, in the past ten years, all of Somerset's.

CWMG said more than £2m is raised each year from the levy on these business but claims only £600 has been spent in Uffculme and £25,500 in Burlescombe on community projects.

Devon County Council is currently preparing the Devon Minerals Plan and a quarry could be opened in either Uffculme or Ottery St Mary. Currently, operators can dig up to 50m from properties and CWMG told the minister there should be a minimum 200m buffer zone or compulsory compensation measures.

Thomas Ferguson, chairman of Culm Waste Minerals Group, said, "We would like to thank Nick Boles for seeing us and Neil Parish MP for arranging the meeting.

"Neil recently spoke in Parliament about the Rural Fair Share campaign, which is calling on the Government to address the ongoing disparity in funding between rural and urban areas, and we wanted to tell the minister that we have not been treated fairly."

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