Actor and former Strictly contestant Greg Wise slams Kirkwhelpington quarry plan as "madness"

Plans for a hard stone quarry just 700 metres from a quiet Northumberland village have been condemned by one of the area’s most famous sons.

By James Robinson
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 11:14 am

Newcastle-based company North East Concrete has requested planning permission to extract four million tonnes of dolerite from a 28.7 hectare site near Kirkwhelpington.

The plans have attracted widespread opposition. It has so far attracted 72 objections from members of the public – including people from Ponteland, further down the A696 – on the grounds that the road is already extremely busy and the quarry would create more traffic.

Villagers have also formed a campaign group Kirkwhelpington Residents Against Needless Extraction, and now the group has the backing of a famous face, who says the quarry would be better off in Alnwick.

Actor Greg Wise and wife Emma Thompson.

Greg Wise, who starred in the 90s classic Sense and Sensibility and featured on Strictly Come Dancing last year, was brought up in Kirkwhelpington. He said the “beautiful” area was “under threat” from the quarry plans.

Wise, who is married to actress Emma Thompson said:: “I am not a Kirkwhelpington resident, but I was brought up there and the place and landscape around it formed me.

"I climbed every tree in the vicinity, I knew intimately every square inch of the surrounding land, I searched for crayfish in the Wansbeck, drank sulphur water from the well, endlessly cycled the wider area, country-danced in the hall, sang in the church, entered competitions at the show, built tree houses and dens with the other children of the village and felt an integral part of this special and most wonderful community.

“I have not been back since my dad, who lived there for decades, died a dozen years ago, but still keep in touch with a few of the long-term residents, who fill me in on all the news. The village went through difficult times, but is back to being a thriving community.

A map detailing the location of the proposed quarry.

“New houses, new families inhabiting this most beautiful of places – which is now under threat.

“I cannot believe how this proposed quarry could be allowed. It will undoubtedly create immense traffic on the most dangerous of roads, the A696; it will create constant noise and dust, both of which will engulf this most peaceful of places; I would assume that the wildlife will be hugely affected (especially the incredibly rare crayfish in the Wansbeck – which I understand they are trying to protect now at Wallington Hall); it will be environmentally destructive.

“As far as I can see from the comments already lodged with the council that there is a more viable quarrying alternative at Shiel Dykes in Alnwick and that there is almost half a century’s-worth of stored road stone already banked.

“There seems to be no earthly reason to start quarrying within half a mile of this beautiful, peaceful village.”

He also wished the campaign group luck in “stopping this madness.”

North East Concrete’s planning statement points out that the site has been allocated for the extraction of crushed rock in the Northumberland Local Plan adopted earlier this year.