Council considers plans to extend size and life of quarry
9:06am Thursday 28th February 2013 in News
THE controversial — and delayed — proposals to expand Harwood Quarry have split opinion throughout the village.
Today, Bolton Council’s planning committee will decide whether or not to allow bosses permission to extend the life and size of the Brookfold Lane quarry.
A quarry has operated on the site for more than 100 years and the plans, submitted by waste management firm Booth Ventures, include a 2.32-hectare extension and a 15-year time extension to complete the extraction of shale, siltstone and sandstone.
They will also allow for inert and non-hazardous waste materials to be imported for infilling to allow restoration.
The proposals were poised for approval in December but a decision was delayed after committee member Cllr Nick Peel urged objectors and the firm to try to iron out their differences by creating a liaison group.
In its new application the firm said it would be pleased to set up such a committee and also responded to concerns over dust and debris by saying it would install a new wheel wash and ensure all wagons were covered.
Booths Ventures bosses will also pay for the installation of a new system to monitor speeds.
But the firms’ chiefs said councillors’ requests that the planning application be split in half — one for extraction of materials and one for infilling the quarry — would not be “commercially viable”.
The proposals would result in an extra 45 HGVs per day travelling to and from the site.
There have been 218 individual letters supporting the proposals — including 68 letters from businesses linked with Booths Ventures — along with 75 letters of objection and a 55 name petition, with concerns ranging from traffic congestion to dust and noise.
On Monday, 119 letters of objection were handed to Bradshaw councillors Mudasir Dean, Stuart Haslam and Walter Hall by a group of concerned neighbours.
The firm has pledged to give financial compensation to people living in Brookfold Lane — the area most affected — if the plans get the go ahead, and a report to the council said residents are now “broadly supportive”.
One Brookfold Lane neighbour, backing the plans is Kath Kavanagh, who says residents were offered £2,000 per household per year for the duration of the scheme by the firm in compensation.
But she claims neighbours were not invited to a recent surgery held by Bradshaw councillors about the quarry because of their support for the proposals.
She said people in her road did not get an invitation to the surgery held last Friday until that morning, and claims the invite was delivered by hand by Cllr Stuart Haslam because she complained to The Bolton News, a claim denied by the councillor.
She said: “The Brookfold Lane residents have negotiated with Matthew Booth for new conditions, which are written into a legally binding contract.
“The agreed conditions include compensation, as a goodwill gesture, for the people most affected.
“These conditions will ensure the quarry will work efficiently and also improve the environment for all residents.
“We can, of course, object, should these conditions be broken.
“Many people in Harwood do support Harwood Quarry; they do not want to put people out of work and are happy to see this local business continue.”
Cllr Haslam said he had been planning to deliver the invite.
He said: ”Some we delivered on Wednesday and the remaining ones on Friday morning, including Brookfold Lane.
“I have spoken to everyone who has made representations to me, including the applicant and Ms Kavanagh, and hope I have listened to all the many viewpoints on the issue.”
Gerard Ryle, who lives in Brookfold Lane, opposes the plans and said he declined to apply for compensation from the firm.
He added: “There’s more at stake here than money. We had ramblers up here yesterday, it should be like the Lake District but it’s not a good view at all.” Cllr Haslam said: “The planning committee called for compromise at its December meeting to see whether peaceful co-existence might be possible.
“In my judgement the report does not offer enough safeguards in terms of vehicle numbers, hours of operation, road safety issues with the schools being on the route and amenity to residents.”
Bradshaw councillor Mudasir Dean said: “The only thing that has been achieved by delaying the planning application is a great deal of new representations from both sides of the argument have been received.”
But Matthew Booth, the managing director of Booth Ventures, insisted the plans would provide a much needed boost to the region’s flagging building trade.
He added: “Approval for the planning permission is vital for the survival of our family businesses and we have proposed numerous upgrades to the site and our operations that will improve the current situation.
“The application fits squarely with local, regional and national policy and — if successful — the site will play a key role in the recovery of our area's struggling construction industry.
“Approval by the committee represents a vote for local Jobs and the local economy.“ If approved the plans will be delegated to Bolton Council’s director of development Keith Davies for “sign off” once legal agreements have been reached.
l The planning committee meeting is at 2pm at Bolton Town Hall
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