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The future of Dartmoor, the last great wilderness of southern England, has been jeopardised by an unprecedented glu...
The future of Dartmoor, the last great wilderness of southern England, has been jeopardised by an unprecedented glut of quarrying applications in the national park, reported The Independent on Sunday (p8).

Environmentalists are dismayed at plans by three companies to quarry for stone and clay from valleys and heathland, fearing excavation would irrevocably pit and scar the landscape. But there is little that can be done to stop the digging.

In each case the developers are drawing on quarrying rights they were granted up to 50 years ago - when the national parks network had only just been set up. Dartmoor National Park Authority faces a bill of millions of pounds in compensation if it wants to stop the work going ahead.

The most protracted battle is at Christow, on the eastern boundary of the park, where a developer plans to reopen a quarry that has not been operational for more than 60 years. A consortium has leased or taken up an option on the quarry, saying it is simply removing stockpiled rocks from 1939 - for which it does not need planning permission.

Villagers claim the noise of bulldozing, tree-razing and heavy machinery is intolerable. A local action group took the

case to the high court, where the judge ordered Devon CC to review its stance on the legality of resuming activity in the quarry.

The council has now said it will decide whether to stage a local inquiry to settle the matter and is reviewing the validity

of the original consent granted to the quarrying companies.

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