More than 120 letters of opposition but recommended for approval - council delay quarry decision
06:30 12 October 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2006
A decision on a controversial proposal to create a sand and gravel quarry in Haddiscoe has been delayed after Norfolk County Council asked for more information.
The council’s planning regulatory committee was due to meet today to discuss the application from Earsham Gravels Limited to turn Manor Farm into a quarry and batching facility, with a recommendation given for approval.
However the decision was delayed yesterday lunchtime after the council asked for “further clarification” regarding some information from the applicants.
A recommendation for approval had been given despite a campaign against the application which has seen more than 120 letters of objection from people in the village, together with concerns raised from South Norfolk District Council, Haddiscoe Parish Council and nearby Glebeland Community Primary School.
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, with it processed at a separate plant nearby.
Rory Kelsey, chairman of the Haddiscoe Stopit Association, said: “Our objection is that it is the wrong pit in the wrong place. It is far too big, right on top of the village and right on top of one of the finest examples of an Anglo-Saxon round tower church.”
In a letter to the council, Mr Kelsey said that the group “vehemently oppose” the application with a number of concerns including its visual impact, noise, dust, traffic, its legacy and the economic need and benefit.
Mr Kelsey said: “There can be no doubt that the presence of a quarry and industrial processing plant in this location close to the village, river valley and the Broads will have a detrimental effect on the lives of the villages and the environment.”
A total of 120 letters of objection were sent during the initial consultation phase, with a further 56 letters in the second stage. Two letters of support were received.
Governors of Glebeland Community Primary School expressed concerns about traffic and dust, South Norfolk District Council raised the issue of visual intrusion and impact on St Mary’s Church, while Haddiscoe Parish Council said it was not acceptable, not needed, too close to the village and should remain as arable farming land.
English Heritage said it was clear some harm would result to St Mary’s Church, but concluded it was “less than substantial”.
No objections were raised by Natural England, Environment Agency and Broads Authority.
Mr Kelsey also 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.
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.
The report also explains that the council has a minimum target of sand and gravel reserves to last for seven years, but in September they were only at 5.6, with this site taking it to 6.14 years.
It calls this a “significant material consideration that weighs in favour of the proposal”.
Jim Bennett, managing director of Earsham Gravel, said that the company was committed to being good neighbours to the people of Haddiscoe.
“I am well aware of local people’s concerns regarding our application and we would like to reassure them all that their concerns are totally unnecessary,” he said.
“Right from the start of the planning process, and including the public meeting, we have listened to these concerns and have employed specialist consultants in various aspects of concern enabling us to provide this quarry so it can be operated with minimal if any disturbance to the local environment.”
The plans include the need for restoration with nature conservation and the chance for the site to be used for agriculture afterwards.