Planned quarry extension would be unacceptably intrusive, says CPRE Essex
“An unacceptable intrusion into the countryside.”
CPRE Essex, the countryside charity, has made its concerns clear over plans to expand a sand and gravel quarry near Witham.
Colemans Farm Quarry, on Little Braxted Lane, Rivenhall, already has extensive facilities for the processing and storage of aggregates, but an application has been made to move the processing plant to the eastern side of Braxted Road as the building of the new A12 would take land from the existing site.
Petra Ward, who has written to the county council on behalf of CPRE Essex, says the proposal would mean a 7.5-hectare expansion of the minerals site into the countryside and take it beyond the allocation in the Minerals Local Plan.
The application also includes a nine-metre-high bridge over Braxted Road that would include a conveyor belt to take sand and gravel from the quarry to the new processing plant.
Lorries removing processed aggregates would leave the new site via a new Braxted Road gateway, resulting in some 300 lorry movements a day from both sites.
The letter on behalf of CPRE Essex says: “In our opinion, the proposals would present an unacceptable intrusion into the countryside, changing the character of the landscape and greatly reducing the tranquillity of the area.”
The countryside charity says the proposal conflicts with the National Planning Policy Framework, which highlights the need to protect locally valued landscapes, as well as the Braintree Local Plan, which aims to protect the character of the countryside.
We say the proposals would introduce industrial operations into a rural location; agricultural land would be taken out of production; and adverse air pollution, lighting and noise would affect the area for years.
We also cite the fact that operations would affect access to the countryside and threaten tranquillity for residents and wildlife alike. Further, increased lorry movements would exacerbate the strain on the local road network, while the proposed bridge would be an eyesore.
Should the scheme go ahead, however, CPRE Essex is calling for mitigation, noting that development should provide net gains for biodiversity in line with the NPPF.
We call for existing environmental features on and around the site to be retained or enhanced and consideration given to what new features could be incorporated into the plans. Where on-site measures are not possible, off-site measures should be looked at. There might also be opportunities to enhance local sites and improve their connectivity.
We highlight the Braintree Local Plan stating that all developments are expected, where appropriate, to contribute towards the delivery of green infrastructure.
We believe strongly that mitigation for the industrialisation of the area should be an important condition of any permission granted for the proposed expansion.
With A12 widening sparking land-exchange agreements, such as at Witham Town Council’s Whetmead nature reserve, we suggest the reserve could be expanded further as an important community gain.
The expansion proposals have been put forward by Brice Aggregates, which aims to extract “high-quality” sand and gravel before the A12 is widened.