Sand-extraction plans are described as ‘devastating’

Druridge Bay beach
Druridge Bay beach

Objection is mounting to proposals to extract more than 60,000 tonnes of sand per year from land close to a popular visitor spot.

The plan has been submitted to Northumberland County Council for the sand extraction site at Hemscott Hill, close to Druridge Bay beach and around 3km to the east of Widdrington Station.

The site has had permission since 1960 and operations are allowed until 2020, but the mineral permission is due for review.

Applicant William Bell is behind the scheme, for extraction in four phases over the next 88 months, extracting 62,000 tonnes of medium to coarse-grained sand annually to supply local markets.

The working hours would be Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm, and Saturdays, 7am to 1pm.

A non-technical summary of the plan says that restoration would commence as soon as an extraction phase is completed and aftercare would include the maintenance of each phase of the site once extraction is completed to ensure the successful establishment of the vegetation.

However, the application has prompted a host of concerns, which include the loss of sand dunes, the transport network being inadequate to the transport activity proposed and the effect on wildlife.

Objector Jonathan Rodger, of Druridge Farm, said that sand extraction does currently take place on the site, but on a ad-hoc basis, estimating that the amount is 500 tonnes annually.

He described the plan as a devastating industrial-scale operation.

A petition, signed by more than 100 people, has been submitted, while Northumberland Wildlife Trust has objected to the scheme.

Cresswell Parish Council has objected to the plans while Widdrington Village Parish Council has concerns over the road network and the number of hours of extraction per day.

Mr Bell said: “I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

“This is just an upgrade of the planning permission that is already there.”