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Bishop Middleham resident opposes quarry extension plans
A VILLAGER is urging Durham County Council to reject plans to extend a nearby quarry, arguing it would be ignoring its own guidelines if it approves the application.
Eric Potts strongly objects to Thompsons of Prudhoe’s proposal to extract a further 5.5m tonnes of magnesian limestone from Bishop Middleham Quarry, at Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield, over the next 14 years.
The magnesian limestone extracted at the site is used to create aggregate for construction projects across the North-East, as well as agricultural lime, which reduces soil acidity and is sold to farmers.
However, Mr Potts believes the extension, to the west of the site, is unnecessary and breaches Durham County Council’s proposed guidelines on mineral extraction.
He refers to the council’s Pre-Submission Local Plan, which feeds into the County Durham Plan and states: “During the plan period to 2030, no new magnesian limestone workings will be permitted for aggregate or agricultural lime production.”
It goes on to say that any extensions must abide by strict criteria, including there being no adverse impacts on the environment and local community.
Mr Potts believes the impact would be considerable, resulting in high levels of commercial vehicles, dust and other environmental hazards.
He also refers to a report on the quarry by a planning inspector in 1997 that states no further extraction should take place on site after 11 years.
“After decades of quarrying the local population deserve the right to look forward to a relief,” Mr Potts added.
Barry Robson-Cross, also from Bishop Middleham, shares Mr Potts’ concerns.
He believes the application should be rejected as the existing works are not being filled in and restored at the agreed rate.
Katie Wood, of Thompsons' planning agent P&K Wood Planning, said Thompsons was only slightly behind schedule due to a shortage of construction materials during the recession.
She said this had been taken into consideration in the new application and that the site would be restored to agricultural use once extraction was complete.
Thompsons has operated Bishop Middleham Quarry for more than 40 years and the extension, if approved, would help secure the jobs of 30 people, mainly from the Sedgefield area.
Stuart Timmiss, head of planning at Durham County Council, said: “It would be premature for the council to comment on an application which has yet to be determined.
“The council must robustly consider all applications taking into account the policies set out within the County Durham Minerals Local Plan as well as taking into consideration the National Planning Policy Framework and any consultation responses that we receive.”
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