Work on one of Bolton’s biggest quarries is set to be extended for up to another decade amid “safety” concerns.

Following a vote a town hall, the works at Montcliffe Quarry in Horwich will now be able to continue up to August 2031.

Addressing a meeting of the planning committee, agent Mark Leivers said work had been “significantly slowed down” from what they had anticipated.

He said: “The developer can only work that area of the quarry at very limited times of the year.”

He added: “They must take health and safety into account when doing so.”

The Bolton News: The vote was held at Bolton Town HallThe vote was held at Bolton Town Hall (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Leivers said that the consequences of not extending the works could mean a “significant amount of rocks” falling from the rock face to the floor of the quarry below.

He explained that this could worsen when shale was wet.

He said: “Once you add water to it, it's almost like a lubricant causing plates to almost slide over each other.”

The extension plans had previously been rejected by Bolton Council, only for this to be overruled by government inspectors who decided that the works should go ahead.

The Planning Inspectorate also ruled that Bolton Council would have to pay the costs of owners Armstrong Aggregates' appeal against this rejection. 

The latest proposal had attracted 33 letters of objection from people living nearby raising concerns over the length of time involved, potentially more than a decade, noise caused by heavy goods vehicles.

They have also raised concerns about the impact on the green belt and the impact on wildlife and habitats.

At the town hall meeting, some of the committee members said they were concerned about a decade long extension and how little work they felt had already been done.

Cllr Ryan Bamforth, of Horwich North, said: “We are in the United Kingdom, we have rain on a regular basis, we should be able to prepare for this.”

He added: “I don’t feel it's acceptable that only 25 per cent has been done.”

In response Cllr Bamforth proposed an amendment which would have allowed the works to be extended for just three years instead of 10 and asking for quarterly reports rather than every six months has had been originally proposed.

Cllr David Grant said: “I take on the argument about health of safety, of course people need to be safe.”

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He added: “If this is a health and safety issue it should be done with all speed, which means it should be done as quickly as possible.”

But other members felt that the quarry works needed to be allowed time to be carried out.

Cllr Martyn Cox said: “I think what has been put to us is reasonable and it would be irresponsible for us not to approve this.”

Ultimately the amendment was defeated, and a majority of members instead voted to approve extending the works by 10 years with six monthly reports.