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4 February 2006
Henges conservation plan comes under fire

Groups campaigning to stop quarrying around Thornborough Henges (North Yorkshire, England) have slammed a recently published conservation plan. TimeWatch is disappointed with the proposed Thornborough Henges Conservation Plan announced last week, saying it fails to include all of the Thornborough complex and fails to address the issues.
     "The consultation group and the proposed conservation plan are a response to a number of concerns raised by many people regarding the preservation and appearance of the Thornborough Henges complex," said George Chaplin, TimeWatch chairman. "In particular, people are concerned that the wider archaeological landscape is being quarried and many thousands have signed the petition calling for a one mile 'no quarry zone' around the henges. The proposed area fails to address this."
     TimeWatch says that in early consultations, the conservation plan area was shown to cover a stretch of the landscape from Kirklington to West Tanfield. But they say the proposed conservation area is barely larger than the scheduled areas at Thornborough and omits Ladybridge Farm the proposed site for further quarrying by Tarmac and other areas known to hold archaeology related to the henges. "In addition, there are concerns about the ongoing impact of the landfill site next door to the central henge, on the setting of the national monument in terms of looks and smell," said Mr Chaplin. "This landfill site is outside of the conservation area."
     The group says it will be responding to the consultation and requesting that the plan be redrawn so that it addresses these fundamental concerns. Also opposing the conservation plan and joining the campaign to stop Tarmac quarrying the Ladybridge site is the Green Party. In a collective decision, the Yorkshire and Humber Green Party has sent a letter to North Yorkshire County Council formally objecting to Tarmac's application to quarry more of the landscape around the henges. Green spokesman, Peter Sanderson is urging county planners to reject this application. "The henges at Thornborough are one of the most important Neolithic monuments in the world," he said. "We now know that there is significant evidence of a Neolithic village in the planned quarry area - demonstrating well that Thornborough is much more than some earth banks above the ground. "The quarrying is for cheap gravel, and as well as destroying the Neolithic landscape, would remove acres of prime quality farmland. Tarmac needs a better excuse than plain old gravel to justify this level of destruction."
     In response, Tarmac said in a statement this week: "Tarmac has made no application to quarry the Thornborough Henges. The proposed site at Ladybridge is further from the monument than the present quarry. The proposed site is agricultural land which has been farmed for many years using modern farm machinery."

Sources: TimeWatch press release (31 January 2006), Nidderdale Today (3 February 2006)

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