Petition lodged for sand plans

A concerned villager has launched an online petition in opposition to plans to extract more than 60,000 tonnes of sand a year from land close to a popular visitor spot.

Demi Wright, from Cresswell, is behind the protest, which is against a proposal for the sand extraction site at Hemscott Hill, close to Druridge Bay beach and around 3km to the east of Widdrington Station.

The plan, submitted to Northumberland County Council last year, has already attracted opposition from residents, parish councillors and bodies such as Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

Now Demi has set up an e-petition, which can be found on the county council’s website and is available to sign until June 15.

She said: “I feel really strongly about this. They are planning on taking the sand from our beautiful beach and this will affect the cost.”

The site has had permission since 1960 and operations are allowed until 2020, but the mineral permission is due for review.

Applicant William Bell is behind the scheme, for extraction in four phases over the next 88 months, extracting 62,000 tonnes of medium to coarse-grained sand annually to supply local markets.

The working hours would be Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm, and Saturdays, 7am to 1pm. A non-technical summary of the plan says that restoration would commence as soon as an extraction phase is completed and aftercare would include the maintenance of each phase of the site once extraction is completed to ensure the successful establishment of the vegetation.

However, concerns have included the loss of sand dunes, the transport network being inadequate to the transport activity proposed and the effect on wildlife. Another petition, signed by more than 150 people, has already been sent to the county council.

When the Gazette contacted Mr Bell towards the end of last year after the application had been submitted, he said that he didn’t know what the fuss was about, as it was just an upgrade of the planning permission that is already there.

The application is currently pending a decision.