Gravel protests

Many villagers across mid-Norfolk are facing the prospect of having gaping holes carved in their landscape by sand and gravel firms - and then the possibility of these being filled in with rubbish.

Many villagers across mid-Norfolk are facing the prospect of having gaping holes carved in their landscape by sand and gravel firms - and then the possibility of these being filled in with rubbish.

Consultations about more than 160 potential quarry and landfill sites across the county have stirred up a series of protests and petitions.

At least two websites have been set up to fight proposals, including an online petition on 10 Downing Street's website, and emergency protest meetings have been held in village halls.

They are all part of desperate attempts by the parishes involved to save woodland or natural landscape from being used to extract sand and gravel.

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Residents of Bintree are mounting a campaign to save a proposed site near them. They fear the loss of a woodland on 300 acres of Forestry Commission land.

A website has been set up by villagers, including Lynn Hollings, urging people to attend a public consultation at Breckland Council's offices in Dereham on Monday, and there is a public meeting at the village church tomorrow at 7pm. (inform-ation at

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People living at Hoe and Worthing are opposing proposed mineral sites in their area. They held a public meeting about the proposals last week.

Roger Thorneley, of Worthing, said the plans would not only impact on people's quality of life but might affect the archaeological site at nearby Spong Hill.

Villagers also say they have had extraction sites on their doorsteps for long enough and it is time someone else put up with it.

Steve and Val Horton, at Beeston, say a proposed quarry would ruin the landscape near the village, would lead to lorries on roads not big enough for them and would surround their home and business on three sides.

Litcham people held a protest meeting on Monday about plans for a gravel quarry there.

Norfolk County Council says it wants people's opinions on 104 potential mineral extraction sites and 64 waste management sites, all suggested by waste and mineral firms, so it can produce a site-specific policy of where quarrying should go from 2010.

It says it has a duty to consult on every site that has been put forward by landowners, even though it admits a number of the sites may have little chance of getting anywhere near the final cut.

At present there are 45 site in operation at any one time across the county - an indication that not all 164 sites put forward will be used.

But reassurances that many of the sites will not make the next stage of consultation are of little comfort

to villagers who fear for their woodland.

And on Tuesday, Mark Kiddle-Morris, a member of Breckland Council, accused the county council of adopting a scatter-gun approach by putting forward every site and needlessly causing fear in many villages.

Breckland has the highest number of sites proposed in its district. Its policy and development panel on Tuesday backed villages' objections in its district and agreed to strongly object to five of the suggested gravel extraction sites, four of which were also proposed waste sites.

All are Breckland Special Protection Areas: Bintree Woods; East Harling Woods a habitat for nightjars and woodlarks; Hockham Woods; a site near Methwold; and the site at


Of the 50 minerals and waste sites in Breckland, the council only offered no objection to just 21 sites.

Adrian Gunson, county council cabinet member for planning and transportation, said the authority was not promoting the sites - just asking people's thoughts as it was required to do so by law.

To view the full consultation document and individual sites go to

For more information email or call Norfolk County Council on 01603 223219.

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