RESIDENTS who live near a quarry are understood to have been offered £2,000 in compensation — if they agree not to object to plans to extend operations for 15 years.

Booths Ventures has applied for planning permission to increase both the life and size of Harwood Quarry and has offered residents in nearby Brookfold Lane £2,000 per year in compensation.

An unsigned contract seen by The Bolton News contains a clause which says the residents will waive any objections to the plans they have already made and will not make any new objections to the application.

The document also states that residents shall “if required” by the company supply letters of support. It is understood the majority of residents on the lane have signed a contract.

Booths Ventures managing director Matthew Booth said the contract was drawn in consultation with residents to provide a mutually beneficial agreement.

He said the contract put an onus on the company to address any concerns residents had — and it was drawn up to further improve relations with their neighbours. He said: “Compensation contracts of this nature are nothing new and many companies draw up such agreements.

“This was nothing to do with stopping residents objecting to our plans, which is their democratic right. The clauses quoted are from one of the early drafts of the contract and when singled out like this do not give a true reflection of the agreement. The contract was created to provide some protection for all parties. The company has agreed to carry out improvements which will address residents’ objections.”

Mr Booth declined to show the latest version of the contract to The Bolton News. One resident, who has lived in the lane for 20 years, said she signed the contract because the company agreed to improve the lane. The neighbour, who did not want to give her name, said: “Wheelwashes will be introduced and a gulley will be created. This is a goodwill gesture by the company. Making compensation payments is something many companies do and works very well.” Another said she would not sign the agreement. She added, however: “I knew there was a quarry here when I moved here, but I was told it would stop operating. Had the compensation been paid without the clauses then it would have been a goodwill gesture.”

A public meeting will be held at St Brendan’s RC Primary School in Brookfold Lane at 7pm tonight to discuss plans for the quarry.