By RICHARD WOOD
Friday, January 25, 2013
A decision is expected to be made today on a controversial plan to create a sand and gravel quarry in Haddiscoe.
A coach load of villagers is set to travel to County Hall, in Norwich, to voice their disapproval of the bid as Norfolk County Council’s planning and regulatory committee discuss the application from Earsham Gravels Limited
The firm wants to turn Manor Farm into a quarry and batching facility, and despite strong objections a recommendation has been given for approval.
Earsham Gravels Limited is hoping to turn the existing 28.7-hectare farm into a quarry where 1.45m tonnes of sand and gravel would be extracted during a 21-year period. Processing would be done at a nearby plant, while there would be 210 solar panels to meet 10pc of the site’s energy needs.
Yesterday, the firm’s managing director warned that without approval his business could be put in doubt.
Jim Bennett said: “In this time of severe economic decline and cutbacks, my company has been prepared to look forward and invest heavily to secure its future and the continued employment of its existing employees as we as create new jobs and contributing to the local economy.
“Without a successful outcome from the planning committee it could well be that we will become yet another Norfolk company casualty.”
He added that the company had been operating quarries in Norfolk for the last 66 years without any detrimental impact to local communities, and said it would be no different in Haddiscoe.
In October the committee was recommended to approve the bid, but delayed a decision ahead of the meeting as they asked for “further clarification” regarding some information.
This recommendation is still in place despite a campaign against the application which has seen more than 120 letters of objection.
Rory Kelsey, chairman of the Haddiscoe Stopit Association, said: “The position remains the same. The district council don’t want it, the majority of the residents don’t want it and the parish council don’t want it. The only reason it is being considered is because of substantial mitigating measures, and that only means making a bad thing less bad.”
Governors of Glebeland Community Primary School have expressed concerns about traffic and dust, South Norfolk District Council have raised the issue of visual intrusion and impact on St Mary’s Church, while Haddiscoe Parish Council said it was not acceptable, not needed and too close to the village.
In a letter, Mr Kelsey highlighted that the site was not one of the county council’s 26 sites to be allocated as sand and gravel pits for the next 10 years, and said that he was concerned that other villages would see new planning applications submitted if this was given the go-ahead.
The report to the committee explains that the council has a minimum target of sand and gravel reserves to last seven years, but in December they were at 5.3, with this potential site taking it up to 5.86 years.
It calls this a “significant material consideration that weighs in favour of the proposal” and concludes that on balance that the need to address the county’s shortfall and the economic benefits of the scheme weigh in its favour.
Earsham Gravels Limited first put forwarded an application for the site in 2008. In September 2009 it was deemed unsuitable by the county council, while in 2011 a report concluded it was an “inappropriate” site due the “potential landscape, amenity and highways impacts”.
However the report to the planning committee said this was made before the detailed mitigating proposals in the latest application, which was submitted in November 2011.
The plans include the need for restoration with nature conservation and the chance for the site to be used for agriculture afterwards.