VILLAGERS near Wellington were celebrating this week after controversial plans for armed response police to continue practising in a nearby quarry were thrown out.

Devon and Cornwall Police wanted to renew its permission to use two live fire practice ranges in Pondground Quarry, a mile outside Holcombe Rogus.

More than 100 objections from residents and parish councillors largely based on noise were received by Mid Devon District Council .

But council planning officer Adrian Devereaux twice recommended councillors they should give the force a ‘temporary’ 20-year permission.

Mr Devereaux said concern over noise levels could be dealt with by the council’s environmental health officers if it affected residents.

Councillors attended the quarry for a live firing exercise in September so they could experience the noise levels for themselves, when police fired 1,250 rounds.

The constabulary had been using the firing ranges since 1978 under a series of temporary planning consents, but the last one ran out in 2014.

However, the police continued their shooting practice in the quarry without permission until the error was noticed in 2021 and a new application submitted.

Mr Devereaux told councillors that although the police had an indoor firing range in their Exeter headquarters they needed more capacity.

He said up to 150 armed officers needed to be trained so they could qualify every six months in the use of pistols, carbines, and shotguns, but the force could currently only train between 110 and 120.

However, planning committee members voted to refuse the application because of the impact of noise on residents of Holcombe Rogus and neighbouring communities, and on the tranquillity of the open countryside and nearby designated listed heritage assets.

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary has been asked to comment on the council’s decision and how it might impact the training of firearms officers, but said its media office was currently shortstaffed and might take longer than usual to reply.