Proposal to extend quarry operations sparks concerns

The entrance to Longhoughton Quarry.
The entrance to Longhoughton Quarry.

Concerns have been raised by a proposal to extend work at a north Northumberland quarry, which would allow a further 765,000 tonnes of whinstone to be extracted.

Northumberland Estates is behind the plans at Longhoughton Quarry, in an attempt to stretch the life of the site to 2025, followed by restoration a year later.

It comes as planning permission for extraction at the site, which is on the outskirts of the village and accessed via Station Road, currently expires in 2017, with final restoration in 2018.

No formal planning application has yet been lodged with Northumberland County Council, but details of the scheme have been made available in a non-technical summary. The proposal states that one extension would be to the west, where it is proposed to extend the quarry into existing coniferous woodland.

The other extension lies within the existing boundary of the site and would extend the existing line of the quarry faces along the southern boundary further to the east.

The non-technical summary states that the site will continue to be worked in the same manner, with the same method of blasting and extraction, processing and storage of stone, and onward distribution of material by lorry.

Operating hours would remain the same – 7am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 7am to 1pm on Saturdays – and there would be no increase in the number of vehicle movements. The current permitted maximum number of lorry movements is 60 in and out, Monday to Friday, and 38 in and out on a Saturday. The summary states that impacts on the local highway network are considered low, if the quarry operator continues to operate various mitigation measures already undertaken.

A revised restoration scheme is proposed that will leave the site for nature conservation use once mineral works have finished.

At Monday’s Longhoughton Parish Council meeting, members raised a number of issues to do with the possible extension. Chairman Coun Bryan Ellis said: “We have concerns about dust and noise and the condition of Station Road, in particular, and other roads in the locality, which suffer badly under the heavy lorries. The state of the road at Ratcheugh is a disgrace. It is dangerous.”

Coun Jamie Wanless added: “There is damage being done to the road and it will be hammered for a longer period of time, if the plans go ahead.”

The quarry is currently operated under lease from the Estates by DW Purvis Limited.

The Gazette asked the Estates for comment, but did not receive one before going to press.