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Woodbury Common AONB - “Area 12”

Potential U-turn on Heathland restoration plan

East Devon District Council is currently considering a planning application for


3500m2 of industrial units and associated infrastructure within the Woodbury
Common AONB and CWS (Country Wildlife Site). The proposed development is
located within the area that is currently being turned into a nature reserve ( overseen
by the RSPB ). The Blackhill Quarry and its processing plant is now closed and the
area is being restored to Heathland. An area known as “Area 12” was previously
used as the processing area for extracted minerals and latterly for the processing of
material transported to the site from other quarries.
The processing plant in “Area 12” is being removed as planned and the area was to
be restored to heathland.

“Area 12” The location for either restored heathland - or an industrial estate
Planning application 17.3022.MOUT seeks to reverse this restoration plan and would
see the construction of 4 large buildings for heavy industrial use by Blackhill
Engineering

Proposed layout of new industrial units for Blackhill Engineering

This “U-turn” (if approved by EDDC) will be a huge blow to the environment. “Area
12” sits within one of the most highly protected and scientifically important areas of
countryside in Europe. The area is enclosed by land that is designated AONB (Area
of Outstanding Natural Beauty), SSSI (Site of Special scientific interest ), SPA
(Special protected area) and CWS (Country Wildlife Site).

The heathland restoration plan represented a prime opportunity to turn a significant


area of industrial wasteland (inappropriately situated within an AONB) into a nature
reserve that will benefit everyone. The U-turn would make a mockery of the
Conservative government's new environmental initiative entitled “A green future -
Our 25 year plan to Improve the Environment”. The government document has
noble objectives but as this example shows it is a useless sham unless it is backed
by legislation.

The government's latest ecological statement is at odds with


Planning application 17.3022.MOUT but it is not backed by
necessary legislation

Lowland heaths are wild open areas similar to Moorland, and Woodbury Common is
one of the few areas of it that are left in the UK. With regards to flora & fauna the
Pebblebed heaths are home to many important species including rare butterflies
such as the pearl-bordered fritillary and silver-studded blue, 24 types of dragonfly
and damselfly, and innumerable rare plants. Notable birds include the hobby, the
nocturnal nightjar, hen harrier and the elusive Dartford warbler. Deer, foxes, rabbits
& hares, several species of rare bats, and many other mammals also make it their
home.
Processing plant in area 12 being dismantled

The application shows a total disregard for public opinion. The applicant states that it
was not considered necessary to carry out a “formal community consultation
exercise” as the site is “remote from any settlement”. By allowing this area to be
used for industrial purposes the public are being deprived of access to an area that
should be heathland. It should be noted that in 1930 the Clinton Devon Estates
signed a deed allowing “the public access to the common for air and exercise”.

There will be a massive increase in number of cars using an already over stretched
local road network. More huge heavy transporters and low-loaders will be bringing
materials to and from the industrial site causing congestion and damage to roads
that are too narrow and unsuitable for this type of vehicle. Indeed complaints from
residents of the nearby towns and parish councils about traffic problems, and the
unsuitability of the location was one of the main reasons that the processing plant in
area 12 was closed down. Returning the area to heathland as originally proposed
would increase the area of permeable surface. Increased drainage would reduce
flooding on a road and area that is already plagued by flood water problems (both
locally & downstream).
This extremely sensitive area should be restored - not degraded by further industry.
It would be morally and ecologically wrong to allow development in this area. At the
Woodbury Parish council meeting on 15th Jan 2018 the council voted against the
scheme but it is considered likely that without other objections the proposal is likely
to be accepted by EDDC and the development will go ahead.

The Application is available to be viewed on the EDDC Planning Portal

Please go to- https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications and enter the


reference: ​17/3022/MOUT

Please enter your comments on the portal as there is only a short


time left before a decision is made.

The final date to submit your comments is 2nd Feb 2018