Council says Norfolk residents will get further say on quarry plans

Villagers fighting plans to put a quarry near their homes were out in force yesterday to try to persuade councillors to rethink the proposals.

Norfolk County Council's ruling cabinet yesterday agreed to put forward a list of 63 quarries, including 35 waste management sites, 25 sand and gravel sites and two silica facilities and one for gravel for a fresh round of consultation ahead of a public inquiry, while a further 66 were ruled out as unsuitable.

Those accepted included a proposal for a 50-acre gravel quarry at Marlingford, near Norwich, which has sparked concerns from residents about the impact it will have on are and the surrounding Yare valley.

Yesterday a group of residents raised a series of concerns about the plans at the cabinet meeting.

Jean Austin, of Mill Road, said she was worried about the impact of increased traffic a quarry would bring.

'These roads are used by children walking to the school bus, and this would be at the busy time when people would be going to work in the quarry,' she said.

'If the quarry goes ahead, there would be a great increase in the amount of traffic for people going to work there, and also the roads would become a 'rat run' for drivers trying to avoid the Easton roundabouts.

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'This is a quiet peaceful village, safe enough to let children walk to the bus on their own. I dread to think of the accidents that could happen if the quarry was dug,' she added.

Alan Mendum, chairman of Fritton with St Olaves Parish Council, near Great Yarmouth, said while he welcomed a decision not to press ahead with a quarry plan in the area, he would like to see changes made to streamline the selection process so that communities were not dragged into a drawn out process.

'There is an urgent need to eliminate non-starter sites,' he said. 'It has taken us three years to get to this stage. Substantial applicants can afford the funding to wear down the county by further applications if a stricter filter is not applied.'

Ann Steward, cabinet member for sustainable development, said the list was not definitive and residents would still have the chance to have their say on the proposals in the next consultation process, which starts next month, at any subsequent public inquiry, and during the planning application process for each individual site.

'There certainly will be more than enough opportunity for the public to make their feelings known through the full consultation process,' she said.

Mike Jackson, director of planning and transportation at Norfolk County Council, said: 'We believe we have done all we can to take into account all relevant considerations and that's the basis of the recommendations.'

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