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Norton council’s U-turn over Whitewall Quarry plan
NORTON town councillors have reversed a decision to support the installation of an asphalt production plant in the town after concerns were raised about pollution and lorry movements.
The council had voted to approve the plan by W Clifford Watts to expand Whitewall Quarry at a meeting in February.
However, following concerns raised by local people and the submission of additional information, they agreed to reconsider the application on Monday night.
Speaking on behalf of the 14 protestors who attended the meeting, Welham Road resident Liz Johnson said: “The national planning policy framework published in March 2012 states that there are to be no unacceptable adverse impacts on human health and ensures unavoidable noise, dust and particular emissions are controlled, mitigated or removed at source and establish appropriate noise limits in proximity to noise sensitive properties.
“Also, under the local policy is saved policy 4/13, traffic impacts, which states ‘where rail, waterway or other environmentally preferable modes of transport are not feasible, mining operations, other than for coal, oil and gas will only be permitted where the level of vehicle movements likely to be generated can be satisfactorily accommodated by the local highway network and would not cause undue disturbance to local communities.”
Mrs Johnson said there had been 86 formal complaints to North Yorkshire County Council and there was also a 300-plus signed petition from Norton residents showing the level of anger to this application.
Mayor, Councillor Ray King, said when the application originally came before the council there were no declarations of interest or public objections and it was recommended for approval.
Coun King said since then further information had been submitted. However, only six local residents had been consulted and no documentation had been received by the town council.
“I question if there had been a breach in the planning process and we need to contact North Yorkshire County Council to find out whether correct procedures were put in place,” he said.
Coun King said the points to consider were emissions, traffic flow, operating hours and the local plan, but added: “However, I must point out that Norton Town Council is not the decision maker and the final decision rests with North Yorkshire County Council.”
Coun David Lloyd-Willams said he found it slightly irregular that people had not been informed of any revised documents.
“I propose that we recommend refusal on the grounds of the environmental aspects, although we are no experts, and due to the highways issue, which is a big concern for residents,” he said.
Councillor Hugh Spencer said it was vital to send a strong message to the county council and not delay a decision.
Coun Paul Farndale pointed out that the quarry had approximately 10 years left of hardcore. “The quarry is trying to diversify to carry on working there,” he said.
“When it has all been dug out and they haven’t been given planning permission what then – do they close it and it ends up as a landfill or recycling centre?”
Speaking after the meeting, Norton county councillor Elizabeth Shields said she intended to meet the directors of Clifford Watts.
Norton resident Fiona Campion said she was delighted with the council’s decision, but had been concerned that the majority of people in Norton had not been told about Monday’s meeting.
She said: “The council went to great lengths (including delivering hand-delivered invitations to some households, to publicise the site visits, but no mention was made of Monday’s meeting, or that it would be on the agenda, or that the public could go.”
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