Plans in for new Northumberland quarry, expected to generate five million tonnes of rock

Plans have been lodged for a new quarry to the south of Alnwick, which would see five million tonnes of rock extracted over 25 years.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 3:00 pm

The bid, a joint submission by the Northumberland Estates and North East Concrete, relates to a site at Shiel Dykes, 2km to the west of the A1 and 2km north-west of Newton on the Moor.

The Estates, which represents the business interests of the Duke of Northumberland, is the landowner, while North East Concrete would be the future operator, having already worked in Northumberland at Caistron near Rothbury, and Hedgeley and Wooperton Quarries at Powburn.

A non-technical summary, included as part of the application which was submitted to Northumberland County Council this month, states: ‘The quarry will principally extract whinstone, a hard basalt rock that is used in the construction industry, principally for building roads.

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The proposed location of the quarry at Shiel Dykes.

‘Five million tonnes of rock will be extracted over a 25-year period and distributed via an existing access road that joins up with the A1. No lorries will pass through any local villages.

‘As the quarry is worked, it will be progressively restored broadly back to existing ground levels using imported inert construction and demolition arisings and overburden from the site, leaving a site that will be returned to upland agricultural grazing.

‘Once all of the rock has been extracted, infilling with the imported arisings will continue for another five years, so the total time period for the operation will be 30 years.’

The total site extends to 46.2 hectares, of which only 19 hectares will be quarried, with the remaining areas used for processing, soil storage, water management and traffic circulation.

The extraction area lies within the boundary of Denwick Parish Council, but the access route to the A1 falls within the boundary of Shilbottle parish.

The document concludes: ‘The proposal will enable the extraction of high-quality rock together with a sensitive restoration scheme that is in keeping with key biodiversity objectives.

‘The environmental effects are shown in the assessment to be controllable and able to be mitigated to meet acceptable standards under the requirements of planning and environmental policy and guidance.’

Status in the Local Plan?

This scheme was referred to during the hearings in February this year relating to the minerals section of the Northumberland Local Plan – whose examination is ongoing, with a second phase of hearings slated for October.

In relation to crushed rock, there is a more than adequate supply during the plan period in the current and allocated sites, however, around 80% of the permitted reserves are in the south-west of the county, along with two proposed sand and gravel sites.

Sam Thistlethwaite, of Barton Willmore, representing North East Concrete, told the hearing that this geographical imbalance could be addressed by including the Shiel Dykes site in the allocations.

It had been included as an allocated site in an earlier draft of the Local Plan and he questioned its removal, claiming this was solely on the basis of concerns about the access, but Highways England, which is responsible for the A1 trunk road, had not been consulted.

He added that ‘no showstoppers’ had been highlighted by Highways England as part of ongoing consultation during the pre-application process, although the council’s Kevin Tipple said he objected to the suggestion that ‘no issues had been flagged up’.

He did, however, accept that the position was potentially different now compared to when the site assessment took place, due to the progress on the planning application.

The authority’s director of planning, Rob Murfin, added: “Access to sites can generally be resolved based on the amount of resource you are prepared to put into it.”