THE importance of the china clay industry?s impact on Dartmoor was the subject of a successful debate held by the Dartmoor Society last weekend.

The debate, held at Lee Moor Village Hall, included a presentation by Chris Cleaves of clay company Imerys into the economic importance of the 175-year-old industry on South West Dartmoor, which employs 260 people.

Professor Ian Mercer explored the environmental impact of the industry and debate delegates were also able to tour the clayworks and the village of Lee Moor.

Dr Tom Greeves, who chaired the debate, said: ?It was clear by the end of the day that people believed the industry to be important for a number of reasons.

?However, concerns were expressed about the scale of working, its sustainability and the pace of change, with a sense of inadequate recording of that historical process.?

A detailed summary of the debate will be published in The Dartmoor Society?s October newsletter.

The society was formed in 1998 as ?an independent voice and a forum for debate for those who find Dartmoor a source of livelihood or inspiration?.

Other annual debates have covered such topics as the military on Dartmoor and the 40mph speed limit on its roads.