Villagers lose quarry battle

VILLAGERS have lost their battle against a plan for a major extension to a quarry near their homes.Earlier this year, more than 100 households in Fingringhoe near Colchester joined forces with Essex County Council to fight a planning application by two companies for an extension to a quarry which has existed in the village since the 1930s.

VILLAGERS have lost their battle against a plan for a major extension to a quarry near their homes.

Earlier this year, more than 100 households in Fingringhoe near Colchester joined forces with Essex County Council to fight a planning application by two companies for an extension to a quarry which has existed in the village since the 1930s.

In a report issued this week, the Secretary of State has backed the planning inquiry inspector and allowed the appeal by Thames and Colne River Aggregates Ltd and JJ Prior (Transport) Ltd to extract sand and gravel from a 12.5-hectare area at Ballast Quay Quarry and to temporarily close and divert Furneaux Lane as an access road.

The decision report said: "He [The Secretary of State] considers that the proposal would be environmentally acceptable and would have positive effects in terms of the proposed enhanced nature conservation and restoration.

"It would also have many benefits including promoting sustainable transport objectives …. and supporting those polices in the London Plan which promote the River Thames as a working river."

However, he imposed a number of conditions, including preventing extraction beginning until Furneaux Lane had been reinstated properly and strict operating times.

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No-one was available from the companies to comment yesterday, but the planning appeal heard evidence from them that there would be no need for a processing plant on the site or for transportation of excavated material along public highways as it would all go by river barges, thus causing minimal environmental impact.

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

Local residents had fought what they feared would be the "irreparable and catastrophic" harm to the village's pond and historic centre if the plan went ahead.

Last night, Terry Canham, a member of the objectors' group, said he was personally "very disappointed" by the decision.

Stressing he was not speaking on behalf of the whole group, he said: "We felt we represented the views of the majority of the villagers and the group will now want to discuss what the future effects of this might be.

"From my point of view, the group did its best but at the end of the day we have to rely on the inspector and the Secretary of State to make a judgement."

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