Suffolk County Council’s responses to public concerns over future mineral and gravel extraction in the county have been published.
The council consulted on its Mineral and Waste Local Plan in December and has made some changes while dismissing other concerns.
But that is not the end – after the council’s Cabinet considers the revisions next Tuesday and if full council approves in May, there will then be six weeks more consultation in June and July.
The plan is submitted to planning inspectors in August, who then prepare for an ‘examination in public’ in January 2019. The finished plan goes to the council for approval in July 2019.
If the county’s mineral plan falls below a seven year supply of sand and gravel it could weaken its case for refusing planning permission for extraction in other places.
The plan is for extensions to 11 existing quarries.
Natural England, the Environment Agency and conservation organisations called for inert materials to be used in infilling old quarries and for more emphasis on ecology-based restoration, which have been included.
Impacts on stone-curlew nesting in sites within the Breckland Special Protection Area are mitigated by either working outside the nesting season or by phased working.
On Barnham quarry, 41 representations were received and there was concern over its impact on ‘features of ecological interest’.
Concerns were raised about the dangers of quarry traffic to children at Elveden School but the report says the volume would be much lower than when the route was part of the A11 and vehicles will be restricted to 20mph with no access at school travel times.
Barnham Parish Council said the site was not an extension because the existing quarry had never been used for sand and gravel.
County councillor Joanna Spicer’s objections included things not being shown correctly on the maps, such as a former mustard gas factory, and lack of consultation with the British Trust for Ornithology, Gorse Industrial Estate and Ministry of Defence.
In both cases, the report says the site is suitable and can be worked without unacceptable impacts.
Concerns in the 48 representations on Cavenham included extension encroaching on Tuddenham. The extraction company said the sand and gravel seam at the western end of the site was thin, so the area has been removed.
There is also a promise to look at possible impact of increased traffic at the planning application stage.
At Wetherden, 32 representations included concerns over proximity to existing and planned homes in Elmswell, with both parish councils citing problems with the existing quarry. The report says houses are far enough away and ‘previous performance of the operator’ was not a planning consideration.
Only six representations were made on Worlington, concerning increased noise from lorries and the extension being closer to the village. The report says the distance is still far enough to avoid noise and the traffic would be no heavier than the existing quarry’s.