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Online challenge to Brimpton quarry sites

Campaigners launch petition against 'preferred' sites

BRIMPTON residents have taken their fight against gravel extraction online – and campaigners are urging people to have their say.

Approximately 1.3m tonnes could be extracted from land at Manor Farm and Boot Farm, owned by Wasing Estates, following West Berkshire Council listing them as preferred options in its Minerals and Waste Location Plan.

As reported by the earlier this month, residents have staked strong objections to the proposals over the number of lorry movements and the environmental impact.

The village has now taken the campaign, Residents Against Gravel Extraction (RAGE), online to raise awareness and to petition and challenge the council to turn down the sites.

The change.org petition was started by Pam and Marc Canning and has so far attracted 129 supporters.

Awareness of the petition and Facebook group, RAGEBrimpton, was raised at a residents meeting on Friday by Mr Canning.

At the meeting, residents also suggested ways to ensure the campaign reaches as many people as possible.

Brimpton Parish Council chairman John Hicks and residents John and Catherine Hartz told a packed-out Three Horseshoes about the impact of the proposals.

Residents were shocked to hear from Mr Hartz that demand for gravel in West Berkshire has dropped by 71 per cent, and that virgin fields could be dug up to meet demand in other counties.

Council documents say that sales of recycled aggregates from sites in the district have exceeded the sales of primary aggregates won from mineral extraction sites within the district.

The Brimpton sites are two of seven preferred options in West Berkshire to help meet the need to supply 4m tonnes of aggregates until 2036.

But Mr Hartz raised serious questions about how the council had calculated the amount of gravel needed, claiming that it did not know how much of the gravel dug up in the district was used locally.

Concern over the impact of lorry movements through the village’s narrow country roads every eight minutes was also raised.

Residents questioned the legality of having 32-tonne lorries travelling over five narrow bridges restricted to a 7.5 tonne limit, adding that the roads would become “hazardous” if the schemes went ahead.

A lorry is predicted to leave Manor Farm, where approximately 600,000 tonnes is to be extracted over six years, every eight minutes; while one is expected every 12 minutes from Boot Farm to shift 700,000 tonnes over 10 to 12 years.

Mrs Hartz summarised the environmental impact on top of the lorry movements, including the potential permanent damage to ancient woodlands, historic buildings and sites of special scientific interest.

Residents were urged to respond to the online consultation by Brimpton ward member Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston).

Mr Boeck previously said that the council was a plan-led authority and would be “in the hands of developers” if sites were not identified.

West Berkshire Council said there was no formal requirement to consult on the document, but viewed it as important to engage with residents and landowners at an early stage.

The consultation can be found at http://info.westberks.gov.uk/consultations and runs until Friday, June 30.

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