Northumberland villagers oppose plans to create crushed rock quarry close to the A696

Villagers in a remote Northumberland village are battling plans to open a new crushed rock quarry just 700 metres from a conservation area.

By James Robinson
Sunday, 24th July 2022, 5:28 pm
The proposed quarry would be close to the A696 and the village of Kirkwhelpington.
The proposed quarry would be close to the A696 and the village of Kirkwhelpington.

A Newcastle-based firm has applied for permission from Northumberland County Council to extract four million tonnes of dolerite from a 28.7 hectare site close to the A696 and the village of Kirkwhelpington.

The quarry would be operational for the next 20 years, creating 20 “long-term” jobs on site.

However, local residents are concerned about the impact the site would have on their homes and have formed a campaign group to oppose the plans.

Called ‘Kirkwhelpington Residents Against Needless Extraction’, the group say Northumberland has enough dolerite to last the next 49 years and that the proposed development is too close to the village.

Campaigner Anne Palmer said: “We recognise that stone is needed for road building but we understand that there’s plenty of resource elsewhere to last 49 years.

“It is so close to the village – it’s only 700 metres away. It is also west of the village and the prevailing winds will blow the noise, debris and grime into the village.

“It turns it into a site of heavy industry, whereas it’s just a quiet little village now.”

The application has so far attracted 72 objections from members of the public. These include objectors from Ponteland, further down the A696, on the grounds that the road is already extremely busy and the quarry would create more traffic.

The National Trust is also opposed to the plans. It is concerned about the impact on the historic estate at nearby Wallington Hall and on the River Wansbeck, which the trust says is a vital habitat for native freshwater crayfish.

North East Concrete’s planning statement also notes that “blasting” will be required on an estimated monthly basis to extract the hard stone. However, it also points out that the site has been allocated for the extraction of crushed rock in the Northumberland Local Plan adopted earlier this year.

The family owned company has previously operated sand and gravel sites at Caistron near Rothbury and Low Hedgeley near Powburn, which it says were “worked and restored to a high standard.”

The council has placed a determination deadline on the application of Saturday, August 13.