ARC New Service – I spent a lot of time trying to decipher and transcribe the recording made by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) of the planning committee meeting at Grassington on Tuesday June 15 when the further extraction of aggregate from Dry Rigg Quarry at Horton in Ribblesdale and a large housing development at Sedbergh were discussed. But the recording was so distorted that I have not been able to. The YDNPA did apologise for the poor sound quality due, it stated, to the social distancing required for the meeting resulting in having to use a very large venue with many people seated quite far from the recorder. I am very glad that Stuart Minting, the Local Democracy Reporter, did manage to get there and so provide an independent report concerning the quarry decision.
I always try to ensure that the voice of any objector – such as someone who lives near Dry Rigg Quarry – is heard. But sadly this time I can’t do that. Nor can I report on the debate during the meeting. So I have provided links to the PDF planning committee reports.
Dry Rigg Quarry, Horton in Ribblesdale
The planning committee approved the application by Tarmac Aggregates Ltd to continue winning and working Dry Rigg Quarry until December 2034.
Quarrying at Dry Rigg Quarry was due to end on December 2021. The committee was told that the new application would allow further lateral and deepening at the northern tip of the quarry which will extend the steep, benched quarry faces below Moughton Nab. The Minerals Officer, David Parrish, stated: “This will affect the visual appearance of the site, both during the working period and in the long term. It would also mean that restoration of the northern tip area at original ground level would no longer be possible.”
He had noted: “The scar created by quarrying of the hillside below Moughton Nab is visible from a wide area and has a significant and adverse impact on the appearance of this part of Ribblesdale.” He also stated: “The existing quarry is prominent in the landscape and can be seen from public rights of way and roads over a wide area in this part of Ribblesdale. The main adverse elemtns are the stepped quarry faces that have been excavated into the hillside below Moughton Nab and the screening mounds that have been formed on the edge of Swarth Moor SSSI. The stepped faces are the result of past quarrying and cannot be restored.” There were strong objections to the present application because of the negative impact upon the landscape within the National Park.
In their objections Austwick Parish Council and Horton in Ribblesdale Parish Council pointed out that there was considerable dust pollution. Austwick Parish Council stated: “The councillors believe that statements in the application documents indicate that insufficient attention has been given to this pollution problem with no sense of importance or urgency.”
And Ribblesdale Parish Council informed the planning committee: “The present dust suppression system is not effective and there is no indication that this dust will be effectively supressed during the intended working. Residents at Helwith Bridge will be subjected to dust particulates from road transport over an extended period of time and a conveyor system should be employed.
“There is a lack of blast and vibration information in relation to Foredale and there is the risk to the water supply to Foredale Cottages. Any permission granted should be reviewed after five years to determine negative effects on the community and the environment.”
Mr Parrish reported that Dry Rigg was one of a small number of quarries which supplied high Polished Stone Value (PSV) aggregates with resistance to abrasion for use in the construction and maintenance of skid resistant roads. He stated: “If Dry Rigg closes replacement supplies from alternative sources in the UK or overseas would, for the most part, be likely to involve greater transport distances, with less availability of rail haulage and a correspondingly increased carbon footprint.” He added that the main markets for the aggregate from Dry Rigg were in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
A large amount of the stone from Dry Rigg is taken by road to Arcow quarry near Helwith Bridge via a single track road past Foredale Farm and Foredale Cottages to be transported by rail. Mr Parrish stated that in 2020 64 per cent of the stone from Dry Rigg and Arcow was delivered by rail. Lorries from Dry Rigg also travel via Helwith Bridge to reach the A65. The company has offered a 15 per cent reduction in the existing combined road traffic limit from Dry Rigg and Arcow quarries and that more would be done to reduce the amount of dust on the roads.
Mr Parrish outlined the measures that were being proposed to moderate or compensate for the negative impacts of continued quarrying and stated that it was essential that those were implemented and maintained effectively with the roads being kept in a clean condition. His report also covered the issues of blasting and the impact upon Swarth Moor SSSI.
In his conclusion he reported: “This proposal to extend Dry Rigg Quarry is considered to be a major development. National Planning Policy Framework and Local Plan policy set out that planning permission for major development should only be granted in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.” That, he said, included both local employment and national considerations.
He recommended approving the application by stating: “The judgement to be made is finely balanced: the proposal would provide the local economic and employment benefits of extending the life of the quarry but it would also have adverse environment impacts. On balance, it is considered that the main impacts, other the continuation of the current visual impact, could be mitigated and compensated for and therefore it is recommended that permission is granted subject to strict controls and mitigation measures.”
The application by Broadacres Housing Association to construct 15 open market, 17 affordable/social rented; and 17 affordable shared ownership dwellings adjacent to Station Road (A684) to the west of Sedbergh was also approved.
Both Cumbria County Council and Sedbergh Parish Council had questioned the original positioning of the access onto the A684 from the development and the proposal to fill in a large depression on the site. The planning officer explained that amendments made to the plans had, therefore, included changing the access and reducing the number of houses from 50 to 49 so that the depressions on the site could be used as open spaces which would also assist with drainage.
The councils had also raised the issue of improved pedestrian access to the town but Broadacres said this was outside its remit.
There will be a mixture of housing on the site: detached, semi-detached, terraced and bungalows. The planning committee was told that Broadacres has proposed that the affordable housing should be available to those with a local connection, and also to those living in adjoining and concentric parishes outside the National Park in addition to the usual parish cascade system used by the National Park for allocating housing. They will also enter into a legal agreement to secure the affordable housing in perpetuity to ensure the dwellings remain available to eligible people at an affordable cost.
The planning officer stated that the development would contribute significantly towards the affordable housing need in Sedbergh and surrounding area, providing a range of new homes in a sustainable location that will support the social and economic well-being of the local community.