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Bird strike fears at RAF Marham sees quarry bid removed from blueprint

PUBLISHED: 11:29 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:48 18 July 2019

Campaigners protest against a silica sand quarry in Shouldham Warren. PHOTO: CATSS

Campaigners protest against a silica sand quarry in Shouldham Warren. PHOTO: CATSS

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Fears that a new quarry could attract birds which would then create a safety risk to jets using RAF Marham means the controversial proposal is unlikely to go ahead.

Campaigners protest against a silica sand quarry in Shouldham Warren. PHOTO: CATSSCampaigners protest against a silica sand quarry in Shouldham Warren. PHOTO: CATSS

Minerals company Sibelco UK hoped Norfolk County Council would allocate land between Shouldham and Marham, in west Norfolk, for extraction of silica sand.

The 291 hectare site contains an estimated 16 million tonnes of and Sibelco hoped the council would include it in its minerals and waste local plan - a blueprint used when judging planning applications.

However, the proposal was opposed by the Campaigners Against Two Silica Sites (CATSS), who were angry the area, including Shouldham Warren beauty spot, would be destroyed.

They won the backing of South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss.

Graham Middleton, Conservative county councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Graham Middleton, Conservative county councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

And the Ministry of Defence had objected, saying open water at the quarry could attract birds and pose a danger to operations at RAF Marham.

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In their objection, they said: "The MOD's main concern is the phased working, proposed restoration and aftercare of the site, as the creation of open water bodies in this area has the potential to increase birdstrike risk to aircraft operations."

And, this week, the county council's infrastructure and development select committee, agreed not to include the site in proposals which the council's cabinet will be asked to put out for public consultation.

Graham Middleton, county councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley, said: "Obviously, my local residents are quite happy that the site is being removed from the plan."

But he questioned why the council was still including Shouldham as a suitable 'area of search' to mine for silica sand. He asked officers: "Surely you will get exactly the same objection? Why are you keeping that in as an area of search?"

Officers said the MOD objection was due to the open water concerns. They said a smaller scheme could come forward, which did not spark concerns.

The CATSS group posted on their Facebook: "Our fight is not over. We must continue to oppose this devastation of our local area as hard as we can."

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