Major road-safety concerns have been raised by residents against a controversial plan for Longhoughton Quarry.
And protestors are being urged to ‘raise the noise levels’ by ‘flooding’ Northumberland County Council’s planning department with objections.
Numerous grievances were voiced during a well-attended public meeting in the village on Monday night to discuss the proposal by Northumberland Estates. It relates to the relocation of a recycled aggregate processing facility on the site, owned by the Estates and operated by DW Purvis.
Concerns include increased HGV movements to and from the site, as well as the unsuitability of the road network for these types of vehicles. Objectors also say that the local roads are deteriorating due to existing quarry traffic and there are concerns about schoolchildren crossing the roads. Longhoughton Parish Council chairman Bryan Ellis said: “There are a number of issues. We believe that the local roads are inadequate for the amount of traffic they are already carrying, let alone the extra traffic they will carry.
“Our verges are breaking up and last winter, the road from Longhoughton and over Ratcheugh was a forest of potholes. Today, it is a patchwork quilt. By February, it will be a forest of potholes. If this development goes through, it will only get worse.”
A transport statement which has been submitted as part of the application says that currently, the recycling operation has permission for up to six HGV movements a day, Monday to Saturday, while the quarry has a limit of 60 HGVs Monday to Friday and no more than 38 on a Saturday. But it adds that, in recent years, the operation has exceeded these limits, peaking at a maximum of 100 HGVs a day, serving the recycling/quarry operations.
The new application seeks to change the planning conditions to permit 34 more HGVs to use the site, bringing the permission to a total of 100 HGVs per day, to ensure there are no further breaches in planning restrictions.
Joe Nugent, senior planning officer for the county council, said that a warning has previously been issued for the breaches and said that areas of clarification were needed regarding the transport statement. Longhoughton county councillor Kate Cairns criticised the transport assessment for ‘lacking credibility’.
She read out part of the report, which stated ‘there is little evidence that HGVs are having a significant physical impact on the condition of the surrounding highway network’. This prompted sarcastic laughter from the public.
The Estates could not attend, but wants to meet the parish council.