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Plans up for 24-acre sand quarry on AONB land near Hermitage

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Major development would bring in 35,000 tonnes of sand each year

AN area of outstanding natural beauty in Hermitage may be the site of a new 24 hectare sand quarry if developers push ahead with a proposed major project.

The quarry to supply sand used in construction would be built at Hermitage Farm on Acre Field, and production would yield around 35,000 tonnes of soft sand each year for the next 18 years according to planners.

A screening and scoping request has now been submitted to West Berkshire Council on behalf of Raymond Brown Aggregates ahead of a future application for the project.

The formal request allows the council to decide if an environmental impact assessment is necessary for the proposal which would replace the nearby Copyhold Sand Quarry which is “nearing the end of its life” according to the applicant.

The report submitted to West Berkshire Council for consideration states: “This quarry [Copyhold] is the last remaining supplier of building (soft) sand arising in Berkshire.

“Examination of the alternative supplies for West Berkshire and Reading show that without a local supply, the nearest alternative suppliers of building sand would be around 25 to 30 miles distant from Surrey and Oxfordshire.

“Similar examination of the sand resource in Berkshire and surrounding counties indicate that if a new sand supply is not established in West Berkshire, the nearest future supply can only be from the same general locations in Surrey and Oxfordshire as the present active quarries.”

The 60-acre site for the new project would be located east of the A34 and north of the M4, near junction 13, and lies within the North Wessex Downs AONB.

The final proposal is for the extraction of around 643,000 tonnes of sand over 18 years.

The sand will be supplied to local markets at West Berkshire and Reading.

The site would operate between 7.30am and 6pm Monday to Friday and generate on average 54 HGV movements each day.

The nearest dwellings to the proposed quarry are cottages at Bradley Court and dwellings on Old Street, close to the junction with Priors Court Road.

Speaking of the local amenity impact the report notes: “They are not oriented to overlook the site but they are close to it.

“A good tree, hedgerow screen exists there between the site and the road.

“Noise and dust studies will be undertaken and these will influence the extent of a buffer zone that will be necessary to protect residential amenity.”

The full plans can be viewed on the West Berkshire Council planning portal using planning reference number: 15/02575/SCOPE.

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