To undertake this vast increase in capacity, the roads will need serious widening and strengthening to handle the masses of heavy goods vehicles that will need access to the site if approval is granted. It is estimated that 5,500 lorry movements a year will result and these will run 6 days a week. Heavy lorries, country roads, horse riders and cyclists do not mix. Suddenly Haldon Forest will no longer be the quiet safe and peaceful area of Great Landscape Value and the perfect locale in which to enjoy wildlife, walking, horse riding, running, jogging and mountain bike trails. Overlaying the forest will be the constant noise of quarrying and the dust from the works and continuous lorry movements.
Having spent many hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers money in improving the Forest Park for public enjoyment, the Forestry Commission are disturbed by the application. “We have experienced administration of the quarry since it closed in 2007. Management of the water lagoons created has been ineffective and inefficient. On many occasions these lagoons have burst resulting in millions of gallons of water cascading out, destroying trees, paths and damaging the roads” a spokesperson said.
The quarrying work will impact on the local area designated as Special Scientific Interest. Visitors to the special viewing area can observe many birds of prey species. Of particular concern is the Nightjar, a declining migratory species and currently 80 pairs habitually breed in the forest, representing 3% of the British population. Tony Whitehead from RSPB said “the quarrying activity must not impact on this internationally important breeding Nightjar site and we expect this to be taken into account before any permission is given”
Over the past few years the Forestry Commission development of Haldon Forest has been towards recreation and leisure. Currently over 220,000 people take advantage of this famous forest. It is a natural playground for the community from Exeter and further afield. The services provided attract walkers, cyclists, school groups, horse riders and has spawned Forest Cycle Hire and the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World. Already plans are being implemented for developing the cycling trails. Many organised groups of cyclists like Okefreeriders from Okehampton use the forest trails regularly and are equally alarmed to learn the quarrying and heavy transport will impact on their use.
Of course having extracted 100,000 tons annually of material, the site cannot just be abandoned. RF Aggregates also undertake landfill and waste handling. Will the restoration plan for the site upon completion of the quarrying, transform this area into a landfill site for waste?
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