Hemerdon mine link road could create 'HGV hell' MP says

Hemerdon mine
Image caption Wolf Minerals has said the mine at Hemerdon will employ between 200 and 300 workers

Plans for a new link road to service Hemerdon tungsten mine should be rethought, a Devon MP has told Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Last month Wolf Minerals, secured £4m to develop Hemerdon mine near Plymouth.

Part of a planning package agreed between the Australian firm and Devon County Council is to build a new link road between Lee Moor and Plympton.

Conservative MP for Devon South West Gary Streeter said it would create an "HGV hell" for nearby residents.

He has written to Mr Pickles asking for the original 1986 planning permission to be called in.

Mr Streeter said the prospect of up to 300 jobs being created at the tungsten mine was "highly desirable" and the project had his support.

However, when permission for the road was first granted, the site was across open countryside and not adjacent to the 1,000 homes which have since been built.

He said if the new road was approved it would be used by about 200 lorries every day - most of them servicing the china clay pits that currently use the existing Lee Moor road.

Local residents have expressed anger and concern at the impact that would have on their quality of life and children's safety.

In his letter, Mr Streeter suggested an alternative solution would be to upgrade the lower part of the old existing Lee Moor road, thus protecting the "peaceful residential area" which was currently "in the firing line".

"We want the mine, but the 1,000 householders whose lives are set to be shattered by this HGV hell do not want the road," said the MP.

'No engagement'

The Department for Communities and Local Government said Mr Streeter's letter had not yet arrived.

"When we receive the letter we will respond in due course," a department spokesperson said.

Shortly after an application for a road was granted in 1986, the price of tungsten fell and Hemerdon mine was mothballed, but planning permission was deemed to have been started.

In his letter Mr Streeter said there had been "no engagement" by Devon planners with the Plymouth residents the road would affect.

A spokesman for the council told BBC News the applicant did not require any further planning permission to build the road.

'Blight and hazard'

"A planning application to amend the southern junction layout of the proposed road is being processed," he added.

Asking the minister for his urgent intervention, Mr Streeter said as a local resident himself, he supported the view that the proposed new road would bring "blight and hazard" to a quiet residential area.

Wolf Minerals hopes to start mining tungsten again at Hemerdon in 2014.

It was first discovered in 1867 and mineral-working was carried out between 1919 and 1920 and again between 1934 and 1944.

Tungsten is used in metal-working, construction and in the manufacture of electrical equipment and light bulbs.

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