High court judge rejects challenge over quarry near Bridgnorth
Controversial plans for a massive quarrying operation in the heart of green belt near Bridgnorth have won the backing of a High Court judge.
The 110-acre site, off Bridgnorth Road, Shipley, will be used to quarry about 3.5 million tons of sand and gravel over a 14-year period.
About 250,000 tons of quarried material will leave the site annually, requiring an estimated 96 daily lorry movements.
The company behind the scheme, JPE Holding Ltd, was granted planning permission by Shropshire Council in May last year.
But local resident Isabel Haden mounted a judicial review challenge to the decision at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
She claimed that the impact of the quarry on water and air quality, and the openness of the green belt, had been under-rated.
But now Mr Justice Stuart-Smith has rejected all of her complaints and opened the way for the development to proceed.
The court heard "screening mounds" will be built around the site and the land will be restored after each quarrying phase.
Once quarrying ceases, the site will revert to agriculture, including bio-diverse grassland, and be moulded to "mimic the current lie of the land".
No new material would need to be imported to the site and landscape changes caused by the quarrying would be "very largely reversible".
Ms Haden's legal team argued the council had under-estimated the potential impact of the development on local groundwater.
But the judge said a council planning officer had reported that the development was "unlikely to have an impact in the wider environmental context".
Significant impact on groundwater was also unlikely and any residual risk could be catered for by conditions attached to the planning permission.
On that basis, the judge ruled, the council was entitled to conclude that "significant adverse consequences were not likely".
The officer's "logical and coherent" report also dealt adequately with the landscape and visual impact of the development.
And councillors were entitled to conclude that its effect on the openness of the Green Belt "would not be harmful when not widespread".
Ms Haden claimed the council had also under-estimated the impact that dust from the quarry would have on local air quality.
She pointed to the plight of two disabled people living close to the site, including a seriously ill child who suffers from chronic lung disease.
But the judge said the child and a man with severe visual impairment live "generally upwind" of the quarry site.
The area is currently used for arable farming, "which may itself be a source of significant dust emissions", he added.
The level of air pollution from the quarry would be "significantly below the national objectives set in legislation".
The council, the judge said, gave "suitably rigorous consideration" to air quality issues, and conditions attached to the permission created "a substantial and effective framework for ensuring that dust levels do not exceed satisfactory levels".
Ms Haden's challenge to the planning permission was dismissed.