More objections have poured in after new information over a ‘very contentious’ application to turn farming land and protected countryside close on the edge of Exeter into what objectors say is an ‘industrial landfill site’ was submitted.

The scheme, which was initially proposed in December 2018, would see inert soils and top soil imported to the land at Lower Hare Farm, Whitestone, which has been previously disturbed and left in a condition not capable of sustaining commercial agriculture.

The applicants have said that importing the soil will take around 10 years and once complete, it will allow for the entire field being used for arable production on an even gradient, will have improved soil quality, and the reduced gradients will increase the capacity of the land to absorb rain water.

But residents of Whitestone and Tedburn St Mary – two villages close to Exeter and north of the A30 – have united to oppose the plans – while STAWL, (Stop A Second Whitestone Landfill) a group of concerned villagers opposed to the landfill plans, claim ‘this is an application for a landfill site masquerading as agricultural improvement’.

The application was place on hold back in the spring of 2019 as the Environmental Statement submitted didn’t provide sufficient information to ascertain the ‘significant’ environmental impacts as a result of the development. That statement has since been put forward by the applicants, but objectors have once again criticised the nature of the proposals.

In their statement provided the requested information, they say: “Comments have been made regarding the description of the application and that it is not representative of the true nature of the application. It was made clear in the main application and within the pre‐application documentation that the initial project related to restoration of the area directly unable to be used for arable production.

“The application remains a land restoration project. The result, regardless of the tonnage imported and used, will be a land form which will be more productive for arable usage. Therefore, the description is appropriate.

“To do nothing would maintain the existing situation whereby the land is not improved and does not therefore effectively sustain the agricultural operation at the site. The improvement of this land will have a beneficial impact in the longer term; environmental impacts of delivering the development will have a temporary impact.

“The phasing is designed to limit disturbed land with ongoing/progressive restoration as the development take place, bringing the site back into productive use and the final profile will provide an area for arable production, with improved soil quality, on a suitable gradient.”

It adds: “The access point is appropriate for the level of use and vehicles that will be associated with the development. When considered against the level of traffic on the local network this increase does not create a significant impact.

“All ecological requirements are considered to have been met and it is envisaged that the water management of the site, during construction, and importation of better free draining soils will result in less rainwater runoff in future years.”

But since the Regulation 25 statement was submitted, a further 145 representations from members of the public over the application has been submitted, almost all of which are opposed to the scheme, and in addition to 200 plus objections that had previously flooded in.

Whitestone and Tedburn St Mary parish councils have unanimously voted not to support the plans, and a statement on behalf of Whitestone parish council said: “There are still many unanswered concerns.”

It added: “The initial application was erroneous and flawed from the outset and the new information eventually submitted (after 10 months) fails to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the landscape and important ecosystems of the proposed landfill site will be significantly protected. The areas surrounding Whitestone and Tedburn St Mary have been living under a cloud of uncertainty and in many cases anxiety.

“The application title presupposes the intention of improving the land however this was completely misleading as we all know from the outset the sole purpose was to create a commercial inert waste landfill business. No evidence has been provided that actually supports that there would ever be any improvement to the arable growing medium or improve the crop whilst destroying an ancient landscape setting.

“There is an unconsented section of track which forms the basis for this application and it appears to be a given assumption by consultees that this part of the track is lawful but it is not and it has been constructed by the applicant without planning permission and the lawfulness of that use is hereby being relied upon.

“And I understand that yet another unconsented track is currently under construction, diverting the Alphinbrook water course through yet another culvert destroying more habitat and ecosystems without permission causing further scarring on the landscape profile.”

The response also questions the traffic figures the applicant relies on, whether there would be a biodiversity gain, and the lack of any landscape report with the application.

It concludes: “The application documents and the additional further information could be described in some vital areas as notably sparse, absent or deliberately misleading. There would be absolutely no benefit to the wider community only significant ongoing fears of potential detriment of traffic issues, nuisance pollution, noise and air quality all because of this one application.

“All eyes are on Devon County Council now and there is only one officer recommendation that would be applicable here and that is of refusal.”


Devon County Council’s Development Management Committee had previously agreed to undertake a site visit ahead of making any decision on the application.