Permission has been granted to lengthen the life of a sand and gravel quarry in Burgh Castle, as well as extending it by some four hectares northwards.

The approval for Welcome Pit, located east of the village’s Butt Lane, to carry on operating and expand its site was given at a Friday meeting of the county council’s planning committee.

Planning officers at the council had said the application was “finely balanced” but recommended that councillors vote in favour of the plans.

One officer told the meeting that extending the quarry’s life would enable the “safeguarding of 13 full-time jobs in a deprived area of the county”, and that a proposed restoration scheme when the site closes in 2036 “would provide biodiversity benefits”.

On the other hand, council documents noted that the amount of material being extracted would be "negligible" and that there was "no demonstrable need" for it.

Speaking against the application, local resident Jonathan Sharman said he was concerned about the quarry “expanding in the nesting season”.

“My whole life has been spent preserving ground-nesting birds, many of them are rare,” he said.

“Other species too, newts and rare things, they’re all part of the Broads area, [where] wildlife is one of the major attractions.”

But local Conservative county councillor Carl Smith gave his support to the scheme, saying: “It’s a well-run family business.

“It’s well thought of in the local area and we all know the problems that there’s been in accessing building materials during the pandemic - so it’s really important that we do have something local for small local businesses and even individuals, to access in their area.”

The project had already won support from local Conservative MP Brandon Lewis, who wrote in a letter to the council that the pit is “a long-standing local business, and continuation of extraction at this location remains a superior option to establishing alternative sites or supplying local projects from further afield sites”.

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The committee agreed to impose an extra condition on the quarry, restricting the use of lighting by the quarry at night.

Councillors voted by nine votes in favour of the permission, with one abstention.