Could Suffolk nature reserve be threatened by new gravel works nearby?
- Credit: Archant
Residents of villages near Southwold fear that a huge new gravel quarry could be created in the middle of a protected area near one of Suffolk's most important nature reserves.
Suffolk County Council is currently consulting on future gravel extraction in the county – and has produced a list of possible sites for this work to start over the next few years.
One of the sites is between the villages of Wangford and Reydon in the heart of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths' Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It is also only a short distance from the Hen Reedbeds – one of the most important wildlife habitats near the Suffolk coast, which provides a home for some of the rarest species in the county including bitterns and water voles.
Local resident Simon Loftus, the former chairman of brewers Adnams, said people were angered by the suggestion that a new quarry could be developed in such an environmentally sensitive area.
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He said: 'There is already a quarry on the other side of the road which was allowed before stronger protection came in. But this proposal will be very near the area where some of the rarest animals live and breed and there is real concern about it.'
Mr Loftus said the county council's own document said that if all the sites listed were developed there would be 32 per cent more gravel dug than was needed in the county: 'In that case there is no need for a new quarry here.'
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James Winterbotham, of Reydon Hall, just 500 yards from the site, said that at 27 hectares it was larger than the existing Quarry on the other side of the road.
The consultation continues until December 11. Once it is complete and the responses considered the county will come up with a list of where gravel extraction could be considered. Companies wishing to dig for gravel would still have to get planning approval.
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: 'We are in the early stages of developing a Minerals and Waste Local Plan and we continue to invite people to have their say.
'People can have their say until 5pm, Monday December 11, either online, by email, over the phone or in writing.
'To find out more, people can visit www.suffolk.gov.uk call 0345 603 1842 or email firstname.lastname@example.org'