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West Bilney site unsuitable for silica sand extraction, say campaigners

Picture: Protect West Bilnery Wood group.

Picture: Protect West Bilnery Wood group.

Archant

Campaigners hope they can persuade Norfolk County Council to remove a woodland site from a list of possible areas deemed suitable for minerals extraction.

In developing its silica sand review, the authority identified six possible sites, including land near West Bilney Wood.

Residents in Snettisham have already persuaded the council to remove a possible site in their area from the list, following objections, and now a group in West Bilney wants to do the same.

Charlotte Paton, from the new action group Case (Community Against Silica Extraction), said the site was unsuitable, especially because it included West Bilney Wood, which was Forestry Commission land.

She added: “This is open countryside and forestry, much used for recreation with many people enjoying walking, cycling and riding in the woods. It is an area renowned for its diversity of wildlife with a number of uncommon species in the area.

“The quarrying would also cause noise and ugliness for years. Many of the houses will be in very close proximity, and the sand is not proven to be safe, and we do not want to be put at risk.

“The site is relatively small and the detrimental impact on the neighbourhood would far outweigh the value of the sand extracted.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said it had a legal duty to identify sufficient locations to meet the needs of the country.

“Silica sand, which is found in the west of the county, is a scarce but nationally important mineral used in glass manufacturing,” a spokesman said.

“Where possible we identify the best sites from those suitable that are put forward by landowners and operators for inclusion in our plan. Unfortunately, in the case of silica sand, too few sites were put forward.

“In getting to this point we have consulted widely with the public, including parish councils, on three previous occasions.

“All the comments will be considered by the authority and also by an independent planning inspector, appointed by the secretary of state, to examine the plan.”

The other possible sites identified for minerals extraction include land north of Shouldham, north of Stow Bardolph, east of South Runcton and east of Tottenhill. Extraction already takes place at Bawsey, near King’s Lynn.

Are you incolved in a campaign? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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