ARC News Service: An application to deepen Swinden Quarry received unanimous approval at the meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority ’s planning committee on Tuesday December 11.
Tarmac applied to deepen the quarry by a further 50m by removing an additional 11.3 million tons of limestone. This will extend the life of the quarry from 2030 to 2039. Although restoration work would be completed by 2041 the 144m deep lake would take 27 years to fill once pumping stopped, the committee was told.
Tarmac’s area director, Stephen Barker, told the committee that the appearance of the site would not be altered. He said Tarmac was determined to remain a good neighbour an stated: “We can’t deny that quarrying has an impact upon the local community but we believe much of that impact is positive.”
They had, he said, consulted extensively with the community over a two year period and made some significant changes and commitments in response to the feedback they had received.
He explained that they planned to expand the rail operations and reduce the amount of road haulage. The company would continue to be involved with bio diversity and environmental projects in Upper Wharfedale as well as supporting community projects, he said and added:
“Early in the consultation it was made apparent to us that the potential impact to the ground water and the springs and wells that supply drinking water was a concern. We have agreed to pay Yorkshire Water to install mains water to Cracoe village and to outlying properties [including Rylstone] following the granting of planning permission.”
One of the conditions of the planning permission is that the company will sign a legal agreement which includes funding mains water supply to local residents and the reduction in road transport from 800,000 tons in 2019 to 25,000 tons a year between 2030 and 2039.
Also included is the extension of the existing provisions for independent arbitration if there are any disputes over water supply, subsidence or blasting vibration. Adequate insurance cover will be provided to cover any remedial works resulting from any adverse impacts of quarrying.
These conditions cover many of the issues raised by Cracoe Parish Meeting. The parish meeting did, however, feel that the company’s hydrology and hydrogeology report was flawed and there were insufficient monitoring wells. A Cracoe resident Dr Richard Muir explained to the planning committee why there were concerns that the lake could become alkaline.
The parish meeting had welcomed the undertaking that there would be no heavy traffic from the quarry on Saturdays and had also asked that HGV transport should not start until 7.30am. The hours of haulage approved the the planning committee, however, were from 6.30am to 5pm Monday to Fridays.
David Parrish, the Authority’s Minerals Officer, told the committee: “There are clearly economic benefits by extending the life of Swinden Quarry – by the direct and indirect employment and to the local economy.”
North Yorkshire County councillor Richard Welch pointed out that each day everyone depends on quarried products both within and outside our homes. He remembered the days when residents packed liaison meetings because they were so concerned about issues at the quarry. Now there was often no need to organise such meetings.
This supported Mr Barker’s statement that Tarmac took its obligations to the community seriously. Mr Barker said: “We recognise that some people object to the concept of quarrying in the National Park but there is a clear local and regional need for the materials we produce. We believe we have designed a scheme that protects the local landscape, secures local jobs and minimises our environment impact.”