The following is a letter to the community from Buckfastleigh Community Forum to inform and update all residents in the Parish of Buckfastleigh on the current planning application Gilpin Demolition have submitted on Whitecleave Quarry. This is Gilpin’s THIRD planning application. Each application has been met with overwhelming and informed opposition by the community of Buckfastleigh.

Here’s the letter…

June 2014

Dear Resident,

I am writing you update you on the current situation at Whitecleave Quarry.

I expect many people have been thinking that no news is good news. Sadly this is not so. Many of those who closely monitor activities at the quarry are becoming daily more depressed as planning conditions designed to protect wildlife, regulate activities and minimise inconvenience to residents appear to be flouted on a regular basis.

Despite dozens of complaints and documentary evidence, Devon County Council appears either unwilling or unable to act.

You will remember that last year the Planning Inspector turned down the Gilpin/MVV appeal to turn the quarry into an incinerator waste and construction & demolition waste processing centre. An important factor in his decision was the harm resulting from the loss of the semi mature woodland on the ‘spur’, which includes the European protected hazel dormouse and its habitat, and possibly some ancient woodland that includes soil as well as trees and plants.

I regret to say that since then, most of the woodland on the spur has been bulldozed and large quantities of the topsoil appear to have been removed from the site.

This is just one of many examples of abuses taking place, which I fear we can expect to become the norm if Gilpin’s latest planning application succeeds.

Their current application for change of use to industrial use and for storage will be decided by Devon County Council on Tuesday 15th July. Change of use? Storage? That all sounds innocent enough, you might think – until you consider the amount of storage, what will be stored and the long-term consequences of change of use.

Gilpin is a demolition company whose business it is to transport, sort, process and dispose of the waste created from their demolition projects. They are asking for 10,000 sq m storage space in 40 yd long containers, with very little information about what will be stored there and for how long.

They described their last application as a materials recovery and recycling operation. The Inspector was unconvinced and identified it as waste disposal. We are concerned that this is another waste disposal application, under the label of ‘storage’ – with all the attendant HGV movements.

Even more serious would be the impact of change of use.

When permission was first granted to quarry Whitecleave, it was only ever seen as a temporary activity, because of the disruption to local residents. This was the contract made with local people: that at the end of its working life, the quarry would be restored and returned to nature.

If this application is successful that won’t happen.

It will become a permanent industrial site with the public having very little say about what goes on in there.

We suspect there will be a move to grant temporary permission. This is also unacceptable in planning terms and is we believe simply a ruse to make it easier to grant permanent permission in a few years’ time.

    The Inspector recognised the value of this important biodiverse site.

Summing up, he said that ‘The evidence does not demonstrate that the appeal scheme would deliver sustainable waste management. The proposed facility would have some benefits, but overall I consider that the likely harm to biodiversity and the conflict with waste policy weighs against allowing the appeal.’

We believe this latest application is an attempt to undermine the decision of the national Planning Inspector and we will be doing everything in our power to stop it.

Thanks to the hard work and generosity of Buckfast and Buckfastleigh residents last year, we still have some money in the kitty to pay for legal advice. Whether we have enough is touch and go. Please support our stall of children’s games at the Buckfastleigh Fun Day on Sunday 29th June where more information will be available.

Yours sincerely,
Julia Wilton
Co-chair Buckfastleigh Community Forum