RESIDENTS living in a County Durham village are “furious” and “upset” at the prospect of a quarry spoil heap “taking over their homes” for the next ten years.

Since 2017, people in Hesleden village, near Peterlee, have had to contend with “intrusive” noise, dust, fumes, and HGVs, which has led to some trying to sell their homes and others calling on the site to be banned.

In the four years since the quarry became active, 154,000 tonnes of combustible materials have been removed off the site.

But, with 256,000 tonnes still needing to be removed – B&S Recycling are looking to extend their permission to 2033; ten years beyond the initial approval they previously received from Durham County Council.

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Under the proposals, the applicants are looking to undertake nine years of operational excavation of limestone and sand, with a 12-month restoration scheme to follow.

Currently, the application is travelling through the Durham County Council planning process – with B&S Recycling saying that: “The site has now been working for about four years removing tipped materials from the surface of the site.

"A limestone and red clay outcrop have become evident at the base of the tipped materials.

“This has now exposed a partially unworked limestone cliff which is variable in height between five metres and 10m at its highest points.

The Northern Echo: Hesleden spoil heap got approval four years ago, but B&S Recycling have submitted a further application. Picture: DCC.Hesleden spoil heap got approval four years ago, but B&S Recycling have submitted a further application. Picture: DCC.

“The limestone cliff extends in a south-east to north-west direction along the southern edge of the site, there is red boulder clay located over much of the upper surface of the limestone, the lower reaches of the cliff intersect with a previously worked area of limestone which forms a plateau at the base of the cliff which extends down to Hesleden Dene.

“The uncovering of this limestone cliff presents a possibly unique opportunity to restore and significantly enhance an area previously degraded by the industry as well as presenting a further opportunity to significantly enhance to adjacent a Local Wildlife Site managed by the Durham Wildlife Trust.”

Despite B&S Recycling making a case for approval of the application, 17 objections have been received from “incensed” residents.

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In February this year, a meeting was called by concerned locals in Hesleden, which highlighted the issues surrounding the 44 HGVs entering and leaving the site each day, as well as the health and environmental impacts of having a spoil heap near to properties.

Maureen Wells, who only moved to the small village a year ago, bought her house on Gray Avenue due to the promise of no further works on the site beyond the current approval until January 2023.

However, now that a new application has been submitted, she now feels “cheated” over the ordeal.

The Northern Echo: The inside of the spoil heap. Picture: DCC.The inside of the spoil heap. Picture: DCC.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she said: “The fact that the spoil heap could be active for another ten years is a joke – it’s impacting the lives of every resident around Hesleden.

“People are struggling to get onto the planning portal and the applicant seems to be making it tough for people to get involved in the consultation.”

Fellow resident, Alan Jowsey, who lives at Castle Eden, has said that the application “goes against the human rights of residents” and has cited the 6,336 HGVs annually as a “major issue”.

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He said: “The original plan was the restoration of the spoil heap. It is now about the lucrative extraction of limestone and sand.

“The environmental issues of noise and the continuing destruction of local roads, kerbs and footpaths are disgraceful.

"Four trucks every hour from 9am until 5pm are destroying the lives of residents of Castle Eden who live next to the B1281. Their human right to live a quiet life is being ignored.”

Moving forward, there will be a public meeting on Wednesday, March 16, at Hesleden WMC, with a Durham County Council planning meeting to determine the application later in the year.

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