A new planning application for a water bottling plant at Staden Quarry (aka Cowdale Quarry) has been received by the High Peak Borough Council. The BMC’s volunteer access co-ordinator Henry Folkard recently attended a Parish Council meeting about the proposals at King’s Sterndale and takes up the story.
The new application (reference no: HPK/2014/0023) is substantially different from previous ones, though it is still for a water bottling plant. Essentially it proposes a 6.3m excavation at the far (Buxton) end of the quarry to accommodate a two storey building some 150m long and 125m wide. This will be accessed by a tunnel from the A6 of 14.8m width reached via a 12m deep cutting. Blasting would occur twice weekly over almost two years. If the tunnel is to be lined no mention is made of how. Importing reinforced sections could be problematic.
Parking for 72 cars is envisaged. Lagoons similar to those in the last proposal are shown on the plans. The method of excavations is not mentioned. On the drainage plan there is no link to it from the river nor from the roof water system. Estimate is that to be effective at least 30,000 cu m of rock would be dug out, and presumably need to be transported off site. A heritage centre and trail is mentioned but not shown. A new lay by (this appears to impinge on the curtilage of the ancient monument) on the A6 is shown on some plans but not others.
300,000 cubic meters of good quality aggregate would be released, weighing an estimated 750,000 tonnes, and sold. A notional £15 per tonne was quoted, totalling well over £10m. It was presumed this would be aggregate tax exempt. Whilst 19,000 lorry movements were anticipated in the proposal, at the meeting it was suggested the real figure would be in the order of 50,000.
Existing mounds would remain, or even be extended, presumably to mask the new building. There would be an on-site concrete manufacture facility (though no mention of water source for cleaning aggregate or making concrete). The capacity of the spring is apparently 175 million litres per annum.
Construction was estimated to last 87 weeks. It was claimed 100 people would be employed and sales would rapidly exceed those of Buxton Water – though interestingly Buxton employ only 45 – 60 people and Harrogate Water 35 – 45.
An Environmental Impact Assessment accompanied the planning application. This appeared to be markedly similar to that submitted with the previous proposal, though the current proposal is substantially different. Ornithological data, particularly on bats, was demonstrated to be incomplete. The Public Inquiry after the last proposal confirmed this is a greenfield site.
One substantive difference is that the tunnel will be worked from the top down so all construction traffic (including a 25 tonne excavator) would come along the single track Cowdale road, across the field and down the loose ramp. Some use of the heritage ramp may also be implied, though this may in fact be protected.
As with previous applications this one seems internally inconsistent and incomplete, especially on any construction detail. Similarly there is apparently no assessment of noise or other adverse impact during construction, nor of construction method. Assessment of inconvenience caused by road closure of the A6 for periods during construction or for knock on effect in Buxton is also incomplete.
The BMC will register an objection on the grounds of an incomplete proposal, loss of amenity, environmental and landscape impact, and negation of any notional economic benefit. This is privately owned land, so we have no right of access and as Mr Hockenhull has currently banned climbing, we have nothing to lose.
How to comment on the proposal
If individuals wish to comment on the proposal, the current deadline for comments is Thursday 24 April. Comments can be made either online through the High Peak Borough Council website by clicking the ‘Comment on this Application’ button or in writing to the Planning Officer:
Mrs J Colley
Development Control Section
High Peak Borough Council
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