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Time running out for quarry sites consultation

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More than 700 hectares ear-marked for potential quarrying

TIME is running out, with just two days left to make your views known on West Berkshire Council’s proposed sites for extensive quarrying works across the district.

Last month the council published its Minerals and Waste Sites Consultation document, outlining a wide range of potential sites for extraction.

More than 700 hectares of green fields were allocated as part of the consultation, including a controversial site as big as 100 football pitches at Thatcham’s Waterside Farm.

The consultation will end at midnight tomorrow (Friday), with responses to be collated soon after and findings published at a later date.

Speaking of the consultation at a Newbury Town Council meeting on Monday, town councillors warned of added congestion on an already strained local road network if some of the sites were approved.

Margo Payne (Con, Clay Hill) said: “I think we should be considering that in the future there will be an impact on traffic coming through this town from these sites.”

John Gardner (Lib Dem, St John’s) said: “I would agree that traffic is a problem in Newbury, but the hope is that these issues will be discussed when a planning application is proposed.”

Concerns were also raised about the timing of the consultation during the summer and with only days left for residents to give their opinions.

Elizabeth O’Keeffe (Lib Dem, Victoria) said: “This has happened before with consultations; the consultation comes during the main holiday, and I think that’s something worth noting.”

Mr Gardner agreed, saying: “I am not convinced that the public know enough about these sites.”

There was some muted support for the consultation document, however.

Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) said: “I think as councillors we have to accept that there could be sand and gravel extraction in the future.

“We have to recognise there is a need for more houses and that means more gravel and more sand and, as Councillor Payne has said, the impact on Newbury town will be the traffic.”

Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) said: “I am sure that in the future we will get more detailed plans about where they are going to extract. At the moment it is a matter of speculation.”

Applications have already been submitted for proposed extraction works at a number of the sites, including at Aldermaston and near Thatcham.

Last week, waste and extraction firm Grundon put forward a preliminary application to extend its winding-down quarry operations at Kennetholme Farm Quarry.

If approved, the proposed expansion area, which is some 47 hectares, will be used as a quarry for the next decade.

To view all of the proposed sites and to take part in the consultation, visit: http://consult.westberks.gov.uk/portal

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