The quarry that would ‘destroy a landscape shaped by hundreds of years of history’
A new quarry proposed for Coggeshall “would affect the lives of local residents for decades and destroy for ever a landscape shaped by hundreds of years of history”, according to a campaign group.
CRAQ (Coggeshall Residents Against the Quarry) says that if the county council approves a planning application for the quarry, “it will cause irreparable harm to the Blackwater Valley, destroying the landscape that gives Coggeshall its character, context and significance as a historic village of national importance”.
Although it is not in the Essex Minerals Local Plan, an application is due to be submitted to the county council asking for permission to extract 13 million tonnes of aggregates from the site over 20 years.
CRAQ is responding to an Environment Agency press release giving an update on the Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon flood alleviation scheme that bizarrely doesn’t mention the quarry “right on Coggeshall’s doorstep” and “twice the size of Coggeshall”.
The group says “the justification they [the EA] will offer goes back to 2001”, when 203 homes and 15 businesses in Coggeshall, Feering and Kelvedon were damaged in a flood “described as a one-in-a-thousand-year event”.
It was decided subsequently that the level of risk did not justify government grants but, after a review, in November 2016 the EA asked for pre-planning advice for a scheme developed with Blackwater Aggregates.
Blackwater Aggregates would quarry the site, which would become flood storage and contribute £8 million to the cost of a dam.
The EA reportedly estimates that without the involvement of Blackwater Aggregates the project would cost it £34 million, or £156,000 for each property that might be at risk.
“It is a solution that is out of all proportion to the problem,” says CRAQ.
Further, drop-in events at which the public could have discussed the scheme have been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
CRAQ says: “This proposal needs to be given the scrutiny such a large-scale proposal deserves, based on full disclosure of the facts, not press releases that fail to mention a quarry the size of 400 football pitches.”
The campaign group is calling for the EA to delay the planning application, reschedule the drop-in events and discuss the proposal “in an open and honest way with those whose lives are affected”.