Up to 100 daily lorry journeys expected as plans to fill disused quarry set to be approved
Plans for up to 100 lorry journeys a day to fill a disused quarry have been tipped for approval despite major objections from councillors and community groups.
If approval is granted, the work at Farley Quarry near Much Wenlock – which lies in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – will go on for up to 12 years.
The proposals will be decided by Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee next week, and officers say approval should be granted as the scheme will lead to ecological enhancements and re-connect severed public walking routes.
A previous application to fill the quarry and level the ground for potential future commercial or leisure development was refused last January, but a report to the committee says the new application is different.
The plans relate to the central and southern parts of the quarry owned by the applicant Jim Cannon, with most of the northern section in different ownership.
The report, by planning officer Grahame French, says 150,000 tonnes of waste materials from construction, demolition and excavations will be brought onto the site each year to be recycled. After this process approximately 30 per cent of the material will remain, which will be used to fill the quarry void in three phases.
Eventually it would topped with soil to leave a gently sloping landform “suitable for amenity and agricultural use”, Mr French says. At this point the recycling operation on the site would cease.
The applicant’s transport statement said there would be up to 100 HGV movements per day – 50 in and 50 out – though this would be the “worst case scenario”.
If approval is granted, Mr French says all traffic should use only the A4169 towards Telford, and not to pass through Much Wenlock.
Despite this, objections to the proposal were received from Much Wenlock Town Council, and neighbours Buildwas Parish Council and Leighton and Eaton Constantine Parish Council.
The town council raised concerns about noise, dust and the impact on the AONB, and said the application was “silent on the details of how, exactly, it is proposed to prevent HGVs travelling to and from Much Wenlock”.
It added: “The overriding concern with this development is the increased number of heavy vehicle movements that will be generated by the proposed activities at the quarry, throughout the day, and the impact these vehicles will have on the existing users of the road and residents along the A4169.”
Buildwas councillors said the lorry traffic would add extra pressure to the local road network, “which is already under significant stress and has had a number of road traffic accidents in recent years”.
Meanwhile Leighton councillors said the “totally unacceptable” cumulative impact on the road network from the quarry plans along with recently approved developments at Ironbridge Power Station and Buildwas Leisure Park had not been considered.
However Mr French’s report says the council’s highways officers raised no objection to the application, and there was also no objection from the AONB Partnership.
The council’s ecologists however had objected when the plans were first lodged last year, but changed their stance last month after the applicant provided additional information.
Further objections were received from six members of the public – including former Shropshire councillor David Turner – as well as Much Wenlock Civic Society and Much Wenlock Walkers are Welcome.
The civic society said there was “widespread and persistent local concern about a failure to observe, legally divert or make good the access” of public rights of way on the site, which the report acknowledges have been inaccessible for decades.
As part of the application the site owner has pledged to include a new path, but the walking group said this was not sufficient.
It said: “The promised ‘Permissive Path’ which would create a circular walk is likely to appear, if at all, at the end of the 12 years of ‘restoration’ activity. This loss of public rights of way is unacceptable.”
Despite the objections, Mr French recommends the scheme is approved.
He says: “It is considered that the proposals would help to secure an improved after-use for the former quarry site by removing steep gradients which currently limit the potential of the site, raising concerns about erosion, slope stability and public safety.
“A legal agreement covering the proposals would also secure controls over HGV routing to avoid Much Wenlock and the B4380 Atcham Road.
“Additionally, it would formally divert two existing rights of way so that they pass around the edges of the quarry site where there are gentler slopes.
“The refusal reasons of the previous application have been addressed through submission of further information including on highways and through removal of the proposal to use the restored infilled area as a platform for future employment or leisure development.
“Instead, the area is now proposed for a biodiversity use which aligns with the Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Plan.”
The southern planning committee will meet next Tuesday to decide the application.