A WINDING-down quarry near Thatcham may be expanded by some 47 hectares to allow for another decade of extraction works, if plans get the go ahead.
Waste and extraction firm Grundon is proposing to extend its quarry operations at Kennetholme Farm Quarry, which has been in use since 2008 and is expected to run out of reserves within two years.
The firm has begun the planning process to extend the site south of the River Kennet, swallowing up a parcel of Waterside Farm.
Grundon submitted a “request for a scoping opinion” this week to West Berkshire Council, to determine if it is subject to an environmental impact assessment.
The news follows revelations last week that West Berkshire Council’s waste and extraction sites consultation had ear-marked more than 700 hectares of land as potential quarries, including the Waterside Farm site.
Grundon estates director Andrew Short said of the proposed expansion: “Grundon is seeking to provide a follow-on source of building materials once the existing reserves at Kennetholme Farm Quarry run out.
“Any development would involve using the existing processing and ready-mixed concrete plants on the nearby Colthrop Industrial Estate, and the existing access route via the same estate, directly on to the A4.
“The proposed extension would release one million tonnes of sand and gravel to be worked in 14 phases over 10 years.
“We would only work one phase at a time, covering an area of three hectares (seven acres) – roughly the size of four football pitches.
“Each phase would only last about nine months – but the use of such land is only ever temporary.
“Land we don’t immediately require for operations would remain in agricultural use until we need it for extraction.
“Full site restoration – back to agricultural use with biodiversity features and a pond – would be completed two years after operations have finished.”
He added: “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.
“The team is also experienced in managing quarries in line with best practice, to maximise the recovery of the sand and gravel – while minimising disturbance to neighbouring public and residential amenities.”
In response, campaign group No Thatcham Quarry, which is specifically opposed to extraction works at Waterside Farm, argued the application was part of a wider plan for the company to expand yet further.
David Hopley of the action group said: “I believe that this is linked to their aspiration to quarry Waterside.
“If this is granted it will strengthen their case to continue to ‘expand’, which I believe is part of their intent to weaken any objections that might be lodged against Waterside.”
Last week the group warned that using Waterside Farm for quarrying would be “devastating” to the environment and local amenities for Thatcham residents.
Grundon will hold a public consultation exhibition at Thatcham Football Club with details and times to be confirmed.
The planning application can be viewed on the West Berkshire Council planning portal using reference 16/01955/SCOPE