Today Charlie Hopkins (representing Buckfastleigh Community Forum) continued his cross examination of Georgina Gilpin (witness for MVV). He began by asking what currently happens to Gilpin’s Construction & Demolition waste (C&D waste). It was answered that most of Gilpins waste goes to landfill, supporting one of MVV’s main arguments that the MRF facility will divert waste from landfill. Mr. Hopkins then went on to discuss the area that Gilpin intended to quarry when they took on the site (‘Block D’) for which they have permission under their original license.
It was brought to light that the area they are looking to quarry actually extends outside Block D.
The inquiry moved onto discussing the Trial Blast that took place on 22nd Feb 2012. It was established that if Gilpin receives planning permission, 300,000 tonnes of dolerite will need to be removed from the spur. Ms Gilpin stated that approximately 20,000 tonnes of dolerite can be removed per week which would entail roughly 15 blasts.
She was unclear as to the size of dolerite that would be used for infill therefore it is unsure how permeable the mass would be (important in terms of hydrogeology)
Mr. Hopkins then highlighted the complaints that were received during the trial blast. There is some confusion as to how many of the complaints were related to noise, therefore the Planning Inspector has asked Gilpin to submit a complaints log.
Mr Charlie Hopkins, for the Buckfastleigh Community Forum, highlighted however, that in a period of 4-5 years only 3000 tonnes of dolerite has been quarried.
He compared this with Gilpin’s plans to quarry 300,000 tonnes of dolerite over the 15 weeks, making it evident that there will be a significant intensification of activity at the site, leading to further complaints and loss of amenity for the people of Buckfastleigh.
Under the current ROMP (Review of Minerals Planning Permissions), Gilpin actually has permission to quarry 370,000 tonnes of dolerite. Ms. Gilpin stated that if the current market were to change, making dolerite a valuable mineral, extracting dolerite would have social benefits being sold to schools and hospitals for construction.
Mr. Charlie Hopkins pointed out however, that only 266 tonnes have been sold over the past 4 years, and that it is very unlikely that Gilpin will export the dolerite even if the product becomes economically viable as it would result in extracting 300,000 tonnes of dolerite which is planning to be capped in cement at the completion of the project in 5 years time.
The cross-examination then began to look at the purpose of the Gilpin’s operation. Originally their intention was to use the dolerite with the waste IBA (Incinerator Bottom Ash) and processed C&D (Construction & Demolition) waste to make mixed marketable aggregate. The mixed aggregate, mixed from IBA and dolerite, is being referred to as ‘IBAA’ in Gilpin’s planning application. One of the attractions for Gilpin of Whitecleave Quarry was that there are ample supplies of dolerite to combine to make the product. This intention changed at the decision to bring phase two of the operation forward.
It is thought the licensing division of Natural England has not as of yet been notified of the change in the proposed scheme.
Mr Charlie Hopkins attempted to draw out whether there is a market for the IBAA (exported) product. However Ms. Gilpin made it clear that until she has a product that she can market to companies she will be unable to comment. She anticipates it would take their operation approximately 18 months to get to a marketable, saleable IBAA product.
It was highlighted that there is already an Waste Incinerator being constructed in Exeter that will produce IBA for recycling, which somewhat contradicts MVV’s argument that the location Whitecleave Quarry is beneficial in bringing the product closer to the market as the two facilities will be in competition.
There were also concerns voiced by Mr. Charlie Hopkins of the proposed Gilpin’s MRF facility, were it to reach its capacity of 10,000 tonnes of IBAA. In the event that they reach capacity, they would still be under a contract to continue to receive 65,000 tonnes of IBA per annum from Plymouth. Ms. Gilpin replied that they are looking to develop a relationship with Glendennings in Ashburton to act as an overflow holding facility. However at present, this has not been formalised and there is no evidence of a contingency plan in the application.
John Robinson, MVV’s second witness who specialises in hydrology, was then called forward to give evidence. (Hydrology is branch of science concerned with the properties of the earth’s water, especially its movement in relation to land.)
He asserted that the proposed development would be designed so that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is fully satisfied with the requirement of a permit from the Environmental Agency. He explained how the quarry is drained with ponds at different levels which connect to a lagoon at the base of the quarry where water is pumped down to settlement tanks under the A38 and later discharged by the Environmental Agency. His conceptual model however – the British Geological Survey Map – is different to that of Buckfastleigh Community Forum’s witness Hannah Fraser. (Hannah Fraser is a specialist in Hydrology and Hydrogeology, a witness for Buckfastleigh Community Forum.) The British Geological Survey Map has averaged data, no necessarily specific detailed data with reference to the geology of Whitecleave Quarry.
Mr Robinson claims that there will be no possibility for surface or ground water after capping as the infill mass will be sealed. He compares Whitecleave Quarry to Inst (a much larger IBA facility which has been given the same status by the Environmental Agency as Whitecleave), which has been granted the environmental permit. Using this example he states it is highly likely the environmental permit will be granted at Whitecleave.
Mr. Charlie Hopkins, representing Buckfastleigh Community Forum, was then allowed to cross-examine the witness. Mr Robinson stated that it is impossible to carry out an environmental assessment of the quarry with the data that exists of pumping and rainfall without an intrusive survey to better understand the hydraulic activity of the dolerite.
He denies that any of the water in the base of the quarry is ground water due to the low hydraulic activity of dolerite. His conceptual model was developed to best degree of certainty due to limitations of mass geology. Even if the water could move through the dolerite the capping will ensure that it does not.
Mr Hopkins argues however that the dolerite mass will not be capped for a further 5 years and that the presence of nitrate within the mass might be pumped into the river Dart when the settlement tanks are discharged.
Mr Robinson stated that whether the nitrate is taken out depends on the level of algae within the water and water plants present in the settlement tank.
The settlement tanks have been noted by the Planning Inspector as outside the boundary of the land leased by Gilpin from Ms Truman.
There was a question from the Planning Inspector about how and if it would be technically possible to seal off such a large area with concrete to ensure no leakage. Mr Robinson replied that it would be done in large ‘blocks’ which would then be put together and sealed in some way.