An application has been lodged with Northumberland County Council in relation to Howick Quarry at Littlehoughton, which is operated by Tarmac.
The current planning permission calls for the extraction of whinstone to finish by December 31 this year, with the site restored to agriculture, woodland, whin grassland and wetland by December 31, 2021.
The bid seeks to extend each of these dates by two years, until the end of 2022 and 2023 respectively, but this is to allow time to prepare a more detailed application for a longer period of time.
The application explains that when the current scheme was approved in 2008, the quarry was producing 280 kilotonnes a year and ‘it was anticipated that output would remain at that volume until the exhaustion of mineral in 2020’.
‘However, in common with most quarries at the time, outputs fell significantly due to the recession in 2008 and have remained lower than pre-2008 volumes,’ it adds.
This means that 1.2million tonnes of permitted reserves remain in the quarry, which cannot be extracted by the end of the year ‘not least because the quarry has now been temporarily mothballed due to Covid-19 restrictions with no definite date of reopening known yet’.
In terms of the longer period referred to, which would be the subject of another application, the current bid explains that the length of time needed ‘is dependent largely on the proposed A1 dualling, for which Howick is anticipated to be a key supply point for asphalt and aggregates’.
As previously reported, it is hoped that the development consent order – the equivalent of a planning application for major infrastructure projects – for the two sections of dualling will be submitted by the end of this month.
Highways England has a provisional target date of work starting next year, but ‘this is not confirmed and no contracts have been let’.
The application states: ‘Should the scheme progress in 2021, the length of time required to extract all reserves at Howick may shorten. Conversely, should the scheme be postponed, a longer time extension may be required.
‘A two-year extension now will therefore give the applicant the time to more adequately assess the timescale needed for full extraction of all reserves.’
Longhoughton Parish Council has indicated that it has no objection to this proposal.