Concerns have been raised by village residents over how “dangerous” work has continued at a quarry spoil heap despite plans being refused.

People in the village of Hesleden, near Peterlee, have reported continued issues with noise, dust, fumes, and large numbers of HGVs linked to the restoration of a nearby colliery spoil heap.

Worries were previously voiced in 2022 after B&S Recycling submitted plans to extend works at the quarry, which had been active for four years, to 2033 due to 256,000 tonnes of combustible materials still needing to be moved.

That application was refused in September 2023, which campaigner Maureen Wells said led to “tears of joy” from residents.

However, the 71-year-old said that, despite this decision, work has continued to take place at the quarry.

Durham County Council chiefs confirmed an appeal has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the applicant following the refusal of the proposals and that the council is looking to take enforcement action over work continuing.

Retired Gray Avenue resident Ms Wells said: “The traffic, the health issues, there’s the noise, the dust. It’s no quality of life.

“We still can’t go in the garden because of all the dust coming off the lorries.

“It needs to stop ASAP while all the enforcement and the appeals are going on and we need some support.”

She added one of her neighbours has already had to move due to dust impacting her health.

Ms Wells said she has also been lobbying MPs and other local leaders on the matter in a bid to get their support.

She continued: “We’ve been fighting it for the last three years. It’s a nightmare.

“We’re still fighting, we need something to keep the residents motivated to keep going.”

Stephen Reed, Durham County Council’s planning development manager, said they are “aware an appeal has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate following the refusal of the planning application”.

He added: “We can confirm that, after detailed consideration, the enforcement notice served in September has been withdrawn.

“However, we continue to closely monitor the site in relation to the concerns raised and intend to issue a revised enforcement notice.”

Council chiefs noted the permission which had previously been in place required all mineral extraction from the site to cease by January 31, 2022.

The refused planning application had sought to carry out a further nine years of operational excavation of limestone and sand, with a 12-month restoration scheme to follow. 

A supporting statement on behalf of applicant B&S Recycling outlined how the project had faced delays, including the discovery of more combustible material than anticipated, and the plans would “restore the site more beneficially”.

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It said: “A limestone cliff of high geological and ecological significance has been identified extending the full length of the site.  “In order to complete the following restoration objectives of the site the additional earthwork and time is required.”

It added the applicant was “in discussions about the benefits of the restoration and potential long term management of the site by a local Trust”.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has attempted to contact the applicant for comment.