Venn Ottery Quarry to be restored as heathland

Plans for new homes have been submitted to the council.

Plans for new homes have been submitted to the council. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Extraction of minerals from a 74-acre site near Newton Poppleford is set to cease operating in April – and it could become a ‘valuable wildlife resource’ by the end of 2018.

Aggregate Industries was set to finish operating at Venn Ottery Quarry by the end of this year, but now has approval to continue for another three months.

Sand and silt are extracted, loaded onto HGVs and hauled to Blackhill Quarry for processing, although the volume of minerals is less than previously thought.

Once it wraps up, the site is set to be restored to healthland and managed by the RSPB for nature conservation purposes.

Recommending the application’s approval, Devon County Council officers said: “The revised restoration allows for the quarry site to be completed in line with realistic restoration requirements in an appropriate timeframe and when compared against the approved scheme.

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“The granting of the new consent provides for better planning control in terms of cessation of mineral working, timing of restoration and long-term provision of ecological benefits.

“It is therefore considered that planning permission be granted in accordance with the recommendation to this report.”

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The application is to alter two conditions of the existing planning permission. They are being altered because the mineral reserve is smaller than previously thought and the restoration will differ from that previously approved.

The site, between Newton Poppleford and West Hill, is within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This is partly why the quarry has proved unpopular with neighbouring residents. Responding to the application, one said: “The quarry is in an AONB, the existing path past the quarry is frequently water-logged and barely useable and the noise disrupts the peace of the area.

“The grounds occupied by the quarry should be returned to natural heathland as soon as possible, and certainly no later than the existing planning consent.”

Another respondent said Aggregate Industries had ‘totally destroyed’ the habitat and, if extraction continues, there will be ‘enormous damage’ to the area.

District councillor Val Ranger said residents have lived ‘for long enough’ with the loss of amenity in the countryside, adding: “This site is visible from miles around and is a blight on the AONB.”

The proposed restoration of the site was welcomed by an RSPB spokesman, who said: “The creation of the mixture of habitats proposed will not only benefit biodiversity interests at Venn Ottery, but will complement other adjacent sites we manage.”

The reports say there is habitat potential for bats, dormice and badgers.

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