Quarry ‘twice the size of Coggeshall’ not welcome, say village campaigners
- Credit: PA
Plans for a huge quarry will ruin the heritage of Essex villages “for decades to come”, according to campaigners.
In 2001, severe flooding affected hundreds of properties across the villages of Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon, including many listed buildings.
Flood defence discussions have rumbled on for almost 20 years since then, but the current proposal from the Environment Agency (EA) is for a dam to be constructed to protect homes and building from future floods.
However, the construction of the dam would involve digging a quarry which campaigners say will be larger than the village it is protecting.
Co-founder of Coggeshall Residents Against the Quarry (CRAQ), Sarah Phillips, said: “The biggest problem we have with the quarry is that it is simply huge – it’s twice the size of Coggeshall.
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“There are properties which need some kind of flood protection but there are so many other solutions that could be used to stop the villages flooding again.
“The river could be cleaned, work could be done on the pinch points of the river, lots of trees could be planted and they could even introduce beavers to build dams like they did in Finchingfield. This would make the most of the natural flood plain.”
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The Agency says the dam is the most suitable option for protecting the 203 houses and 15 businesses at risk, and the financial support from commercial partner Blackwater Aggregates will mitigate the cost to the taxpayer.
The EA hopes to submit a plan later this year having consulted the public in 2019 and made arrangements to share their latest work online after the pandemic forced them to cancel further drop-in sessions.
A spokesperson for the agency said: “The information we would have presented at the events can be found on our website along with our contact details if people have further questions.”
The works to build the flood defence are expected to take 20 years, but the EA says the closest the work will come to the homes is 150 metres and only for the last three years of the construction work.
However Mrs Phillips says dozens of residents, including those affected by the 2001 flooding, have supported CRAQ.
“It is a solution that is out of all proportion to the problem,” Mrs Phillips added.
“This is a proposal that will affect the lives of local residents for decades and destroy for ever a landscape shaped by hundreds of years of history.”