Having assessed the information submitted, the County Council determined that the proposed development would not be EIA development. Based on the information presented, the County Council determined the impacts that would arise would be localised to the site and immediate surrounds and therefore not at a scale that requires an EIA process to be undertaken. This included assessment of information provided by the applicant that set out how impacts on the geological SSSI would be mitigated. The Vale of White Horse also reached the same decision that the proposal would not be EIA development when they dealt with a previous screening opinion request from the applicant when they had thought the proposal was a district rather than county matter. Anybody who disagrees with the Screening Opinion can seek a Screening Direction from the Secretary of State and so this would be recourse for any party who disagrees with the decisions by both the district and county councils on this matter.
Whilst it has been determined the proposed development does not require EIA, environmental impacts will of course be rigorously assessed through any future planning application by the County Council’s planning team. The application would need to be accompanied by environmental information and subject to consultation with statutory environmental bodies as well as residents and other interested parties. The application information and consultation responses will then be assessed by the planning team and a recommendation made having weighed up all the considerations, including those concerned with the environmental impacts. The planning application process will also assess the proposal against all relevant development plan policy, which will include those contained in the County Council’s Minerals and Waste Core Strategy Part 1, the Vale of White Horse Local Plan and Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan.
In summary, due process has been followed with the EIA screening process in respect of the proposed development at Wicklesham Quarry. The next step would be for a planning application to be submitted, which once received will be subject to statutory consultation and assessment against all relevant policies and material considerations that will include rigorous review of environmental and all other impacts.