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18 September 2005
Thornborough: planning application rejected

North Yorkshire planning officers' recommendation on quarrying near the 5,000-year-old Thornborough henges (England) has been published. They recommend that the planning committee reject Tarmac's to extend Nosterfield Quarry at Ladybridge Farm, Thornborough, near Ripon, to extract 2.2 million tonnes of sand and gravel over four years.
     The application was submitted in June last year and immediately brought protests from those who feared for the future of the henges, about a kilometre south-east of the extension area. Nearly 850 letters of objection and three petitions with a total of 9,680 signatures were sent in.
     Planning officials said the proposal would have "an unacceptable impact on nationally important archaeological remains". They also said the move would be contrary to the authority's policy on mineral extraction and that there was no overriding need for it. This is a major blow to Tarmac. Their Northern estates manager Bob Nicholson said: "We have only just learnt of the officers' recommendation and will need to study the report to committee in detail before we are able to comment further."
     Tarmac has insisted throughout that the development would pose no threat to the henges, saying the extension would be further from the earthworks than the existing quarry site.
     The Council for British Archaeology, Yorkshire Archaeology Society and action groups the Friends of Thornborough Henges and Timewatch submitted detailed responses calling for the scheme to be rejected. George Chaplin, chairman of pressure group TimeWatch, said: "It's not a done deal, as the planning committee can still go against the officers' recommendations."
     If the application is rejected, Tarmac may withdraw the application altogether or they may appeal. If they fail an appeal then they can't re-apply for another two years. George continues: "While this is obviously good news, it's not the end of the story yet. Tarmac will more than likely withdraw the current application, and then submit a new modified one at a later date. Still, it's a step in the right direction."

Sources: This is the North East (14 September 2005), Heritage Action Journal (16 September 2005)

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