Quarry bad news!

SIR - Devon County Council is currently trying to convince Ottregians that a brand new quarry at Straitgate Farm is an important necessity, and that, although they do not deny that quarries in general are unsightly, noisy, dusty, dangerous, irreparably damaging to the environment and the local economy, they have to be somewhere and Ottery is the place DCC has chosen.

Usually you get some kind of quid pro quo with a devastating proposal of this sort: local employment; a boost to the local economy; but no, not this time ... it’s all bad news. There’s nothing - let me repeat that - nothing - good about it. The best on offer is that the quarrying company will try to patch up the landscape after 10 years of extraction (unless of course the site operates for longer) which has removed an entire hill, and changed the skyline. And, possibly, they won’t even do that, if things change in the meantime, especially if landfill has become such a pressing issue that a large hole in the ground proves just too tempting for a waste disposal company to ignore.

DCC has to oblige the Government in making these arrangements, to ensure supplies of the right sand and gravel for local building programmes. But, it turns out that there is already tons of it available from existing quarries in near Cullompton - more than enough to meet the Government target. So why is a big, foreign-owned aggregate company dead set on polluting our beautiful valley with heavy industry? Good question. You should ask DCC to explain, and you should comment on their plans. Write or email your local town, district and county councillor, and find out the full horror of this proposal.

There is a stack of technical arguments showing that DCC still have many problems to resolve. Those strategic and technical issues will play an important role in preventing this catastrophe. Personally, it upsets me just thinking of something beautiful being turned into something ugly for no good reason. But no matter whether you are technically minded or, like me, you just feel that Ottery is a special place that deserves to be looked after, make your views known - now! You can’t stop this thing once it’s started.

Chris Wakefield

Ottery St Mary