Villagers fight quarry extension plan

By Ted JeoryHOMEOWNERS have started their fight against a plan for a major extension to a nearby quarry.More than 100 households in Fingringhoe, near Colchester, have joined Essex County Council to fight an application by two companies for an extension to a quarry that has existed in the village since the 1930s.

By Ted Jeory

HOMEOWNERS have started their fight against a plan for a major extension to a nearby quarry.

More than 100 households in Fingringhoe, near Colchester, have joined Essex County Council to fight an application by two companies for an extension to a quarry that has existed in the village since the 1930s.

The companies argued that without the quarry extension, their existing operations would become unviable, causing a “substantial” loss of jobs.

Thames and Colne River Aggregates Ltd and JJ Prior (Transport) Ltd had their original application for the quarry extension - and also to temporarily close and divert Furneaux Lane as an access road - rejected by Essex County Council last year.

But they launched an appeal against that decision and that hearing started at a hotel near Layer-de-la-Haye yesterday.

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Andrew Kelly QC, representing the companies, said there would be no need for a processing plant on the site or for transportation of excavated material along public highways - instead it would all go by river barges - so the environmental impact would be minimal.

He added: “The site's appearance in the landscape will change within a very localised area of perception, limited to the area immediately surrounding the site.”

Mr Kelly also argued the commercial viability of the companies' existing barge operations was dependent on their own “dedicated resource” of gravel at the site.

Paul Shadarevian, for Essex County Council said the companies' emphasis in using the environmentally-sustainable methods of transportation as a basis for their argument was a case of the “tail wagging the dog”.

He added: “We shall demonstrate that at best, it is flawed and misconceived.”

Siding with the council in opposing the appeal, some villagers won the right for official representation at the inquiry.

The residents said they wanted to prevent what they feared would be the “irreparable and catastrophic” harm to the village's pond and historic centre that would result if the application was given the go-ahead.

In their opening statement, Antony Dutton said: “The environmental impact of the proposals is extremely significant and the proposals are not environmentally acceptable.”

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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