Protests grow over quarry plan for site by River Ribble

First there was Brockholes, then Lower Brockholes and now a third site on the end of the river at Samlesbury, near Preston could be quarried for sand and gravel.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 12:30 pm

Proposals to extract gravel and sand from a third site by the River Ribble at Samlesbury, on the outskirts of Preston, have sparked a local backlash.

A protest petition about the plans for the Lower Hall Farm site off Potters Lane on the outskirts of Preston has attracted hundreds of signatures.

The site, on farmland owned by The Booth Charities of Salford, is across the river from Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Brockholes nature reserve. The charity was established more than 400 years ago to help the poor and needy of Salford.

Nigel Geary, secretary of the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association, pictured by the river at Samlesbury photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The planning application submitted to Lancashire County Council has been made by Harleyford Aggregates Ltd of Buckinghamshire.

Objections to the proposals for the 90 hectare site have been raised by local residents, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, a regional fishing group and the Environment Agency.

There have also been calls for more archaelogical investigations of the site. But the applicant's agent maintains the site " will be a vitally important source of high quality sand and gravel" for the county in the future.

The proposals for the site include:

Part of the loop of the River Ribble at Samlesbury, near Preston, which adjoins the proposed extraction site photo: Kelvin Stuttard

• construction of a new access road and a new junction with the A59 Preston New Road

• the creation of a plant site, weighbridge and stockpiling area

• the creation of silt ponds and landscaping including screen mounding.

Progressive restoration of the site to create wetland with a passive flood management facility, woodland and agriculture is proposed,

Nigel Geary pictured by the farmland where permission is being sought to extract gravel and sand photo:Kelvin Stuttard

Local resident Andrew Tufft of Potters Lane, Samlesbury, said: “We are the closest private residence to the planned development. Our home would be 275 metres from it, so we’re not happy of course.The whole Ribble Valley is an area of special landscape, we know there are protected species on the site.”

He said they were particularly concerned that an eight metre high bund (earth bank) would be built opposite their house.

His wife Stephanie has created a protest Stop The Quarry at Samlesbury petition on change.org which has gathered 400+ signatures to date and set up a Facebook protest page @Samlesbury Quarry.

Mr Tufft argues the applicant’s ecology report could be outdated and he maintains the site’s archaeology had not been adequately examined. He warned there would be additional problems with “noise, dust and passing quarry traffic” which could go on for 20 years and he and wife Stephanie disputed the quantity and quality of sand and gravel on the site. They believe any new road built from the site on to the A59 would be dangerous.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust's Brockholes nature reserve was created on the site of former gravel pits and David Dunlop, Trust conservation officer for central and western Lancashire, said: “We’ve objected because this planning application is premature.The plan put forward for nature’s recovery during and after extraction is insubstantial. It’s got no proposals on which particular key species are to be provided for, and only the crudest in terms of habitats. And there’s almost nothing on how these will be maintained into the future, and complement our ten years of actively delivering nature’s recovery at Brockholes just across the Ribble. It could be so much better. We want to see 30% of Lancashire’s land and seas managed to secure nature’s recovery by 2030.”

The Trust has submitted detailed objections. But it has also suggested due to the proximity of their reserve and experience in managing artificially created wetlands, the Trust would, in the longer term, if the quarrying is approved, be " best‐placed to ensure the effective management of this site for nature conservation in liaison with the applicant’s agents and in perpetuity thereafter. "

Speaking up for fishing groups, Nigel Geary, secretary of the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association said his association had concern about overall impact on the eco-system and vitality of fish stocks, flooding and the impact of noise and dust. Noting the area is in a major critical flood zone, he said the stretch of river adjoining the proposed quarrying site is fished by and leased by a local angling club. He said: “There’s no mention I can read about the riparian (fishing) rights of that angling club.”

He added: “The Ribble is quite a unique river. In the majority of rivers are either coarse or primarily migratory rivers (with salmon and sea trout). The Ribble is one of the major salmon rivers left in the country (and) we have a profound famous coarse fishery.”

He noted local rivers were already impacted by major work on the Haweswater aqueduct, adding: “From the rivers perspective it seems two massive projects are about to be undertaken.”

Preston City Council and Highways England have raised no objections to the proposals which will go before the county’s development control committee.

Meanwhile Lancashire County Council’s own historic environment team has pointed out the need for further assessment of the site where there are possible remains of a motte and bailey.

It is thought estate buildings from the ancient Samlesbury Lower Hall might have been built on site. It has also been noted evidence of seasonal late Neolithic/early Bronze Age activity was discovered during work at the site of the Lower Brockholes Quarry.

The Environment Agency has objected to the application as proposed and recommended planning permission is refused, pending the submission of further detail on the environmental impacts of the proposed sand and gravel extraction.It noted: “We wish to emphasise that we are not objecting to the principle of the extraction at this site but that we object on technical grounds until further information can be supplied.”

Meanwhile HSE (the Health and Safety Executive) had no objections on safety grounds against the granting of planning permission but advised the proposed site lies within the consultation distance (CD) of "at least one major hazard site and/or major accident hazard pipeline" and advised developers would need to contact the pipeline operator to check if there were any additional constraints on development near the pipeline.

John Cowley, agent for applicants Harleyford Aggregates, said the company had “highly detailed and expert evidence” which indicated ”this is a high quality deposit and, if granted consent, will be a vitally important source of high quality sand and gravel for Lancashire.“

He said there is an urgent need to find new supplies in the county to meet demand, for flood protection work and housing and sought after industrial,technology and energy developments: “Recently, Lancashire has produced around 0.5 million tonnes of land won sand and gravel per annum. This has been from a number of quarries, but most will have worked out their supply in the next couple of years. Other than Lower Hall farm there are no other significant new sources in the pipeline.“

Solicitor Jonathan Aldersley, clerk to the Trustees of The Booth Charities, said: “It’s an application that has been submitted by a minerals company. It’s something that the trustees are looking at. They have a duty to consider whether that may be of benefit to the charity.”

To see the application click here or see https://planningregister.lancashire.gov.uk/Planning/Display/LCC/2021/0012

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