'Substantial impact on Thatcham' if quarry is expanded
Councillor supports campaign group's arguments about negative impact on the town
A THATCHAM councillor has said plans to quarry large areas south of the town will have a substantial impact on more than a 1,000 properties.
As revealed in the Newbury Weekly News, Waterside Farm, south of the train station and north of Thatcham Town Football Club, appeared in West Berkshire Council’s Minerals and Waste Site’s consultation, which closed last week.
Waste and extraction firm Grundon is promoting the site as an extension to its current operations at Kennetholme Farm Quarry.
Kennetholme has been in use since 2008 and is expected to run out of reserves within two years.
Residents fear that 47 hectares of south Thatcham countryside would be swallowed up if the site is approved.
Campaign group No Thatcham Quarry has been set up to fight the proposal, which it says would be devastating to the environment, recreational areas and eco-systems around the town.
Siding with residents, town and district councillor Rob Denton-Powell (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) has submitted his concerns to West Berkshire Council.
He said that the site’s selection would have a substantial impact on more than 1,000 properties, with additional vehicle movements adding to “an already stressed road infrastructure”.
Grundon said that 66 vehicle movements are expected at the site each day.
Mr Denton-Powell said that residents would want guarantees over the impact on local roads.
He also said that the impact on public rights of way also needed to be addressed, stressing the importance for Crookham Park residents owing to a reduced bus service because of cuts.
He also wanted assurances that children walking to school would not be subject to dangerous conditions.
Grundon said that the previously-used pockets at Kennetholme would be filled with inert waste, leading to concerns over flooding and landfill.
“Given the site is a valuable rural site used by hundreds, if not thousands, of residents, there is significant concern that the site could be converted to landfill,” Mr Denton-Powell said.
Residents have highlighted that Waterside Farm serves as a natural flood defence for businesses and homes, particularly noticed during the winter floods of 2014/15.
Mr Denton-Powell said that any quarrying would compromise the farm’s ability to absorb water.
“Of special concern is the comments by Grundon that gravel will be replaced by inert material,” he said.
“This is too ambiguous to derive any confidence that the site will be returned to a state that will retain the same properties as today.”
Grundon said that the proposed extension would release one million tonnes of sand and gravel to be worked in 14 phases over 10 years.
These would be worked one phase at a time, covering an area of three hectares, with each phase lasting about nine months.
Grundon estates director Andrew Short said: “From working sand and gravel in the Kennet Valley for so long, our sand and gravel team already has a comprehensive understanding of the local hydrogeology and other environmental factors.”