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16 March 2008
Quarrying permission near Thornborough Henges

Plans for a controversial quarry extension near Thornborough Henges (North Yorkshire, England) have been thrown into disarray following a legal challenge. Tarmac Northern won planning permission in January 2007 from North Yorkshire County Council to extract 1.1 million tonnes of sand and gravel over eight years from land at Ladybridge Farm, between Bedale and Ripon, half a mile from the nearest of three Bronze Age earthwork henges on Thornborough Moor. Tarmac said the unanimous decision would ensure the future prospects of 15 full-time quarry workers and 40 hauliers, where reserves are almost exhausted.
     The henges, described as the Stonehenge of the North, have legal protection as a scheduled ancient monument but worried campaigners who organised a 10,000-name petition insisted that their surroundings, including Ladybridge, must be protected from the effects of further quarrying. The formal decision notice was not issued until October following completion of a detailed agreement with Tarmac covering conditions attached to the permission. However, council lawyers have now confirmed that it should be quashed following a legal challenge on eight grounds concerning the handling of the planning application. The issue is expected to be reconsidered by the committee at Masham Town Hall on April 22.
     A spokeswoman for pressure group, Friends of Thornborough, said it challenged the decision in the name of one of its members. She said: "A number of faults were identified in the way the county council had made their decision. There are still five grounds outstanding which remain to be challenged and on that score they should be extremely careful when they take their decision at the meeting due to take place on April 22."
     Gordon Gresty, the council's director of business and environmental services, said: "This development has had a contentious history and the legal challenge needs to be seen against the background of the wide range of issues the committee took into account when it made its decision. Those issues were properly and comprehensively considered. However, in order to avoid further legal proceedings we have agreed to the quashing of the present planning approval and it would be our intention to take the issue back to the committee in the future."
     Some preliminary work has been done at Ladybridge, but mineral extraction has not yet started.

Source: Darlington & Stockton Times (7 March 2008)

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