Long-awaited mineral consultation expected to start next month

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

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

A long-awaited consultation on plans to build silica quarries at Shouldham Warren and Marham is expected to go ahead at the end of August.

The consultation was originally scheduled to start in December 2018 but was delayed by Norfolk County Council because of the number of objections it received during a preliminary phase.

It is now expected to start at the end of the month, if the county council's cabinet agrees when it meets on August 5.

Many have protested the building plans, with campaign group CATSS (Campaign Against Two Silica Sites) set up in August 2018 to attempt to prevent silica mining.

CATSS claims the plans would leave a "devastating legacy" for endangered wildlife and public footpaths and "a massive impact on health and wellbeing".

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A HSE report into silica quarries found that no cases of the lung disease silicosis had been documented among members of the public, however prolonged workplace exposure to silica dust could lead to an increased risk of lung cancer.

A CATSS spokesman said: "The preferred options consultation should have already occurred. This is having a huge impact on the stress levels of the residents in our villages and every delay just increases that stress."

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Norfolk County Council put the area forward as an "area of search" to mine silica sand, a type of naturally granulated quartz. Mineral company Sibelco UK put forward a proposal to the county council stating that they would pump the sand, which is used to make glass, from the site to its processing facility at nearby Leziate.

A Sibelco spokesperson, said: "Sibelco and its predecessors have extracted, processed and supplied sand from the Leziate area for more than 100 years. Norfolk produces the majority of the material required in the UK for clear glass making.

"Sand of the right quality to make glass is rare and, after an extensive geological investigation, Sibelco located a suitable resource in the Marham and Shouldham area which the company has put forward to the Norfolk Mineral Plan review.

"Sibelco awaits the next Mineral Plan public consultation by Norfolk County Council and the company will continue to engage positively with the local communities."

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