Quarry under investigation

Steven Bridgett
Steven Bridgett

An investigation is underway following complaints that a north Northumberland quarry operation has affected the water supply of nearby homes.

Local councillor Steven Bridgett claims that concerns have been raised by residents of Blaxter Cottages, near Elsdon, that the operators of Blaxter Quarry on the A696 were operating in a section of the site and had dug so far down they had disturbed the aquifer that supplies water to the cottages.

The Gazette understands that both the Environment Agency and the county council’s planning department are looking into the issue, with planners involved due to suggestions that a section of land was being used without the relevant permission.

This is strongly denied by the operators of the site, William Allison and Sons, who also say that this is a historic problem relating to rainfall.

But a Minerals and Waste Site Monitoring Report seen by the Gazette states: “The conclusions provided by the Environment Agency are that the north-eastern area of the quarry has been excavated below the groundwater table, and that this has caused the sediment pollution at the spring.”

Paul Allison, managing director of William Allison and Sons, said: “William Allison strongly disputes any claim that they have been working outside of their planning area.

“The householders have admitted (in writing) that this is a historic problem and as the area in question wasn’t worked until 2012 then it clearly cannot be the cause of the silt problem.

“The hydrology report we have suggests that the most likely cause of the problem is increased water-table levels at times of high rainfall. There have been record levels of rainfall in the latter part of last year.

“We have agreed to fill an area of the quarry in to eliminate it as a potential source.”

Coun Bridgett said: “Our water supply is something very sacred to us all, and what the residents of Blaxter Cottages have had to deal with – pollutants in their water supply – is quite frankly appalling.

“The council need to act swiftly on this and show that they are doing everything possible to ensure this does not happen again to these residents. Full consultation and disclosure with the residents affected is what is required here.”

A Northumberland County Council spokeswoman said: “This matter is currently under investigation by the council and we are not able to comment further at this stage.”