Green light for extension to working life of Northumberland quarry

A bid to extend the life of a Northumberland quarry has been given the go-ahead, following assurances about ‘stringent’ new noise conditions.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 17:23 pm
The location of Divet Hill Quarry, where permission has been granted for operations to continue until 2021. Picture from Google

Divet Hill Quarry, near Great and Little Bavington, between the A68 and A696 and to the south-west of Kirkharle, has been in use since 1934.

Operated by Cemex and producing between 300,000 and 350,000 tonnes of hard rock each year which is currently in high demand for the construction industry, the existing planning permissions allowed for operations until December 31 last year, with restoration by December 31, 2020.

However, changes to the conditions were unanimously approved by members of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee at their meeting on Tuesday (May 7).

This means that the quarry can now be worked until December 31, 2021, with restoration to be completed by the same date two years later, as well as extending the area of operation into a new part of the site which was not originally part of the working area.

The proposals sparked just one objection from a neighbour – from Great Bavington resident Martin Archbold, who spoke at the meeting, explaining that noise had only become a problem since summer 2017, despite living there for nearly 30 years.

“It continues to cause my family so much grief,” he said. “We are still awoken at 6am and we can’t spend much time in the garden, you get forced back inside.”

But councillors were told that the applications had provided the opportunity to amend other conditions in order to deal with local concerns.

The council’s new director of planning, Rob Murfin, explained that the crusher will now not be able to start operating until 7am, rather than 6am, while the noise conditions ‘have been tightened up’.

In response to councillors’ questions, he added that the daytime noise limits in nearby homes were the strictest he had seen on a mining application.

Donald Wilkins, of Cemex, told the meeting that a new complaints procedure had been put in place so that issues could be reported when they happen.

He also outlined that the site supports 10 full-time jobs and spent £750,000 on local contractors last year, while highlighting that a new restoration scheme has been agreed in consultation with the RSPB, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the county council.

Coun Trevor Thorne said: “It does play an important role in our economy, but as good planners, we do need to protect the public from the noise, the dust and the dirt it produces.

“I welcome the detailed analysis and the 43 conditions, including the more stringent noise conditions.”

Coun Rupert Gibson added: “I’m quite close to this quarry, I pass it every time I come here (to County Hall). Every time I pass, it looks very smart. They are a good employer, so I believe, I never hear complaints in the locality.”

Coun Robbie Moore said: “I very much welcome the revised restoration plan which I think is very much an improvement on what was there before.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service