quarry chiefs responded after being barred from a residents' meeting to discuss plans for a quarry extension.

Bosses at Tarmac Northern's Nosterfield Quarry, near Bedale, said they wrote to organisers asking to attend the meeting last Tuesday, but were told they were not welcome.

Instead, quarry representatives stood outside the Memorial Hall, West Tanfield, and gave out a letter stating their points of view to residents.

The dispute is the latest development in a long-running row between quarry chiefs and campaigners hoping to block the planned extension, which they say will damage nearby ancient stone henges.

Bob Nicholson, estates manager at Nosterfield Quarry, said: "This would have been an ideal opportunity to go in there and answer the questions of local residents but we were prevented from doing so."

He said the campaign against the extension had upset quarry workers: "They are angry that people from elsewhere are coming in and making statements that are not particularly accurate.

"These people are trying to get the quarry closed and put them out of a job."

Meeting organiser Elaine Swann said a further meeting, with all parties involved in the application, including Tarmac Northern, was planned in the future.