Quarry protest

MORE than 100 protesters took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate against plans to build Europe's largest quarry and landfill site in a beauty spot.

MORE than 100 protesters took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate against plans to build Europe's largest quarry and landfill site in a beauty spot.

Residents from Bintree, Billingford and North Elmham marched through the villages to object to the proposals which could see nearly 1.7 square miles on their doorstep dug up and used for mineral extraction.

It is estimated that the site between Dereham and Fakenham could yield more than five million tonnes of minerals over the next 60 years before it is turned into a landfill site.

“This would be a massive development that would come within three metres of people's houses,” said Chris Langford, one of the campaigners.

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“There is a couple in their 90s whose house would be completely surrounded by the quarry if it is built here,” said Simon Gilbert, another protester from Bintree.

Norfolk County Council,

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responsible for dealing with all mineral planning matters, has received applications from contractors across the county looking to extract building material.

The Forestry Commission, which owns woodland in the area, has expressed interest in the quarry, along with other private landowners.

Earlier this year, the county council launched a consultation asking people's views on proposals across the county.

The exercise comes to an end tomorrow, after which the authority will compile a wish-lis containing the most suitable proposals.

But residents in the three villages want to ensure that their voices are heard before any decision is taken.

“If the quarry is built here, our lives would be completely disrupted,” said Mr Langford.

“Traffic would be horrendous; we have calculated that there would be around 1.5 million lorry movements while the site is operational. House prices would go down and the impact on our families, children and grandchildren would be dreadful for the foreseeable future.”

April Pond, prospective Lib-Dem candidate for Parliament for the Breckland area, said that rather than helping the environment the Forestry Commission was looking to destroy it.

Her views were echoed by Green Party member Timothy Birt who said recently-planted saplings would have to be razed together with the woodland if the quarry was buil.t

Forestry Commission spokesman Stuart Burgess said Bintree Woods had been included in the consultation because of potential mineral reserves identified by exploratory investigations.

“If Norfolk County Council considers Bintree Woods to be a preferred site, more detailed work will be undertaken to identify environmental and other constraints, which will inform the appropriate extent of any extraction proposals,” he added.

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