Victory sighted in campaign against mineral quarries in Charing
PLANS to dig up huge swathes of Charing for mineral quarries are on the point of being scrapped.
Anxious residents feared for the parish's future after no fewer than eight sites were put forward for quarrying under Kent County Council's Minerals and Waste Development Framework.
But just one of the sites – Burleigh Farm and Tile Lodge – has made it onto the council's preferred options that will go forward to the next stage of the process.
The relieved chairman of Charing Parish Council, Tylden Reed, said: "This is excellent news. Approximately a tenth of all the sites in the county were potentially coming our way.
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"Obviously we were extremely worried."
The county council carried out consultation on the draft proposal last year, when 48 sites were put forward as possible places where natural minerals, such as sand, limestone and chalk, could be extracted. Since the consultation closed officers have been trawling through the evidence and have now published the shortlist of 25 preferred options.
Burleigh Farm and Tile Lodge near Hook Lane will be going forward to the next round of consultation.
In reaching its decision, the county council noted it was agricultural land, and therefore unlikely to contain a high level of biodiversity, and did not have designated status, such as being in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In addition, quarrying for soft sand already takes place at an adjoining site.
The new section is estimated to have 2.8 million tonnes of sand, which could provide 22 years' worth of potential.
Sites that did not make it on to the list include one in Pluckley Road, Double Quick Farm, Beacon Hill Quarry, Newlands Farm, two extensions to Charing Quarry and a separate site attached to Burleigh Farm.
A site for recycling aggregates called Hegdale in Challock also failed to make it through to the next stage of consultation.
Charing resident and county councillor for Ashford Central, Elizabeth Tweed, said: "Burleigh Farm will be allocated and I will be seeing what can be done to mitigate any impact on the people living in that area. From the point of view of not developing the other sites, that's obviously a huge relief.
"There won't be any lorry traffic going through Pluckley Road and Charing Heath Road."
A further 66 sites were put forward for the disposal and treatment of waste and recycling.
This has been whittled down to 21 preferred options.
They include Sevington Rail Depot and Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate, both in Ashford.
The county council will now carry out a further consultation on its preferred options for both the minerals and waste sites.
Deputy cabinet member for environment, highways and waste, David Brazier, said: "This work will help develop a plan to meet Kent's mineral resource and waste management needs up to the end of 2030.
"We are required to develop a Minerals and Waste Local Plan by government, which set down strict rules on the selection of sites.We will now look to consult on those sites identified as preferred options in the next stage of the process aimed at making sure Kent has the necessary mineral resources and waste management facilities for the next two decades."