Yvette backs local residents in opposition to Rudd Quarry extension
The proposed extension to Rudd Quarry in Altofts should be stopped. It is far too close to Altofts primary school and the objections in terms of dust, noise, flooding and safety far outweigh any potential benefits for the company. You can read more details on my objections here.
I am writing to oppose the application to extend Rudd Quarry on a series of grounds. I have received very many letters and emails from residents of Altofts who have put forward strong arguments against this application. I have also seen the letter that Silkstone Environmental LTD submitted to the planning committee on 9 May. Overall, this quarry extension would run far too close to a school and residential area, and judged against all the planning guidance, the harm to the community in terms of noise, dust, visual impact, traffic and flood risk substantially outweigh the claimed economic benefit to the applicant.
The application allows excavation to come extremely close to Altofts Junior School. Silkstone Environmental LTD accepts that it will mean excavation as close as 120m from the playground and 145m from the school building. The application itself appears to suggest that excavation could even run closer than that. Even 120m is extremely close given the noise and dust that I have seen for myself from the existing quarry when standing over 300m away.
Silkstone Environmental LTD claim that the application includes the worst case scenario and that some of the closest excavations would not occur for another ten years do not provide any reassurance, as the point is that the worst case scenario would be permitted under the application even though it is unacceptable. And we have an obligation to consider children in ten years time as well as children today.
Many residents are also concerned that existing planning conditions are not being adhered to.
I have seen for myself the level of noise even on a quiet day at the quarry from further away than 300m. I believe this would increase problems for the school in a way that cannot be justified. Residents are already facing difficult levels of noise pollution as lorries and trucks are frustrating residents due to a ‘constant beeping sound’, the water pump causing excess amounts of noise and the general noise of the use of heavy machinery. This noise pollution would only increase if the Quarry extension is approved.
Heavy machinery would be operated at the same time as the schools opening times and in a much closer proximity than at present, making it harder for pupils and teachers to concentrate in school during such a vital stage in their development. Given the potential impact on ability to learn, this significant increase in noise from daily excavations so close to the school and local residents is not justified by any benefits from the application.
Flood risk/ surface and ground water issues
Residents of Altofts have already experienced flooding to their homes due to the quarry pumping waste water into the fields, it has also made open green spaces and public footpaths unusable during this period of flooding. The current planning permission stipulates that ‘All surface water from the site shall pass through approved drainage facilities’, however residents have reported that surface water is already being passed down Greenfield Road rather than into Ashfield Beck as stipulated. I have seen multiple pictures of gardens and roads being completely destroyed by this flooding.
Dust/ Air Quality
There are real concerns about the significant amount of dust that will be generated by the additional clay extraction and the affect that this will have on the air quality for Altofts and Normanton residents and particularly on any sufferers of lung conditions including Asthma which many residents have already told me that they suffer from.
Silkstone Environmental LTD says the risk posed by the dust is ‘not significant’ however a Government Report in 2004 found that dust from quarry sites can carry ‘0.5km from the source’ meaning the dust from this quarry would affect the air quality of thousands of Altofts and Normanton Residents. The report also states that there is a ‘severe case for worry’ for the air quality within 100m of a site. Given the proximity to Altofts Primary School this is a serious cause for concern.
Reports have shown that exposure to such dust can heighten the symptoms of asthma, and can cause lung and heart problems in later life. Asthma UK has found that 2/3 people who suffer from asthma feel that poor air quality (including dust) makes their asthma worse.
I have been told that over 15 children who attend Altofts Primary School suffer with asthma, and one child who has a life-limiting respiratory illness which would be exacerbated by the additional dust created by the extension of Rudd Quarry.
The lack of wheel wash at the site also means that mud and dust is distributed throughout the town, not just in areas close to the quarry such as the primary school.
It is also clear that the roads in their current state are not adequately equipped to deal with the heavy traffic that will be created by extending the quarry. In addition residents are reporting that the site is not adhering to current planning rules as HGVs are using Greenfield Road as an access point, whereas the planning stipulates that ‘All HGV vehicular access and egress to the site shall be via existing access onto Newlands Lane” and “Except in emergencies or with prior written agreement from Local Planning Authority there shall be no HGV access/ egress to the site via existing access onto Greenfield Road”.
The entrance to the site is currently on Newlands Lane, however as Silkstone Environmental LTD have recognised, this entrance does pose an issue. Newlands road is far too narrow to accommodate HGVs, and certainly not suitable to accommodate up to 150 HGV movements per day. The road has already significantly deteriorated. In addition Newlands Lane is a used by many pedestrians who attend the doctor’s surgery, the church, the children’s play area in Smirthwaite Park and the bowling green, however the use of HGVs down this road more frequently will make the area much more dangerous.
I am concerned about the accuracy of the noise report. It appears the applicants have completed the noise report based on only 4 HGV movements per hour. The applicant is applying for a maximum of 150 movements per day, which when the opening hours of the quarry is taken into consideration means that there would be an average of of 16 movements per hour during the working day and during the school day.
Nor is Silkstone Environmental LTDs claim that this will only apply to peak periods reassuring. If the maximum movements are during the summer months this is the time that children are much more likely to be walking home, playing outside and sitting exams, making the higher traffic, air and noise pollution an issue for the school which is so close.
It is clear that the site has not been properly secured as I have had multiple constituents write to me about break ins which has included individuals riding motorbikes within the site which is incredibly dangerous and a public health hazard. These reports also include recent incidents which have been reported to the police in the last few weeks.
Concerns have also been raised about people bathing in the water given the failure to secure it and the proximity of the school increases the concerns for children. In addition the quarry is next to a landfill site from the 1980s raising concerns of contamination
I hope that based on this evidence the planning committee will reject this application.