A controversial Thatcham quarry that site owners are seeking to expand has been recognised as a “PRIME” site by the Institute of Quarrying – the first in the South of England to receive such an accolade.
Waste and extraction firm Grundon is planning to extend its quarrying works at the winding down Kennetholme Quarry for a further decade.
The company has already begun the planning process to extend the site south of the River Kennet, thereby swallowing up a portion of Waterside Farm and 47 hectares of green fields.
Campaign group No Thatcham Quarry argued this was part of a larger plan to extend quarrying across the district and has set out its opposition to any quarrying works at Waterside Farm.
Grundon announced last week that the quarry, which has undergone operations since 2008, had been recognised with the title of Professional Recognition in Mineral Extraction (PRIME), which allows employees to undertake ongoing training and professional development.
The new professional recognition initiative will allow members to use the letters TMIQ after their name.
Grundon’s deputy aggregates manager Andy Bright said of the announcement: “We’re thrilled the Institute of Quarrying has named Kennetholme a PRIME site – and recognised it as a centre of excellence.
“For our employees, PRIME is a great move as we want to continue to develop their skills, make sure they stay with us and have a bright future ahead.
“At the same time, when we’re talking to potential customers, prospective employees, regulator and planning authorities and our neighbouring communities, they can all be confident we operate to a nationally-recognised standard of competency.
“It shows the outside world we take the impact of our operations and our responsibilities very seriously.”
The Institute of Quarrying’s learning and development officer, Emma Bellingham, said: “We have an ageing workforce in the quarrying industry, so it’s really important to look at how we can pass that existing knowledge and experience down to the next generation of managers and supervisors.
“Kennetholme meets all the necessary criteria to become a PRIME pilot site and PRIME fits well with Grundon’s own Grow@Grundon programme.”
Earlier this month, it was revealed that West Berkshire Council had ear-marked some 700 hectares of green fields across the district as potential sites for quarrying.
Consultation has now ended on the proposed sites which are not expected to be announced until 2017.
Grundon will hold a public consultation exhibition at Thatcham Football Club on the new proposals at Kennetholme Quarry, with details and times to be confirmed.