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26 August 2008
More quarrying near Thornbrorough henges set for go ahead

The final go-ahead is expected to be given next week for further quarrying close to the Neolithic Thornborough henges (North Yorkshire, England). On Tuesday members of the county council's planning committee will be recommended to approve a controversial application by Tarmac to quarry of 1.1 million tonnes of sand and gravel from farmland less than a mile from the ancient site.
     The latest move comes after years of argument over whether more quarrying should be allowed close to a site that has been described as 'The Stonehenge of the North'. Tarmac's existing Nosterfield Quarry, near Bedale, produces 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel a year and the new permission would extend its life by two years.
     An application for a larger site was refused permission in February, 2006, because North Yorkshire County Councillors decided the extraction of 2.2 million tonnes of aggregate would have an unacceptable impact on the archaeological remains. But in January last year approval was given to a revised scheme extending quarrying across 76 acres of Ladybridge Farm at Nosterfield. That decision was quashed after The Friends of Thornborough Henges began a legal challenge in the High Court. Now the application has been reviewed and when planning committee members meet at Masham Town Hall on Tuesday the Director of Business and Environmental Services, Richard Flinton, will recommend that permission be granted.
     The Yorkshire branch of the Council for British Archaeology (CBS) remains opposed to the scheme because of its fears about affects on the Thornborough Henges. The CBA says it considers the application by Tarmac would have an unacceptable impact on the setting and says the archaeological remains from the Neolithic and Bronze Age should be preserved in situ. The Friends of Thornborough Henges have renewed their objection and Yorkshire Archaeological Society says the quarrying will have "an unacceptably erosive impact upon an overall archaeological landscape." But English Heritage has welcomed the revised scheme. It said: "We feel it has addressed our initial concerns with regard to the preservation of archaeological deposits of national importance by omitting the southwest corner of the previous application site."
     On Tuesday of this week, more than 500 new letters of objection were handed to North Yorkshire County Council by members of TimeWatch - adding to the 1,500 letters previously collected as part of the campaign group's opposition to quarrying at the Ladybridge site. Tarmac has stressed that its quarrying activities are not a threat to the henges.

Source: Northalleron Thirsk & Bedale Times (22 August 2008)

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