Plans submitted for Barton Quarry restoration

Barton Quarry. Photo: Google Maps

A leading construction materials group has unveiled an ambition to expand the area of land it will return to agricultural use and boost wildlife at a quarry which has been worked almost continuously since being created to cater for the late Victorian railway boom.

Breedon Group, which bought Barton Quarry, near Scotch Corner, in 2016, has lodged an application with North Yorkshire County Council to make significant changes to the quarry restoration scheme agreed after plans to extend the quarry were granted in 1995.

The firm says its proposals would also be more in keeping with the previous land-use and surrounding area, result in significant net gains for ecology and biodiversity in the medium to long-term and enable a suitable extension to the existing industrial development next to the motorway.

The revised plans would see the firm importing more inert waste – waste which is neither chemically nor biologically reactive and will not decompose or only very slowly – from developments such as Scotch Corner Retail Park to fill the large quarried void.

Original plans for the restoration scheme had aimed to return a more limited area of the quarry to farmland as most of the soils stripped during earlier quarry operations had long since been sold or disposed of by previous operators.

Following a reduction in the amount of inert waste being received at Barton as a result of the slowdown in the economy after 2008, a revised scheme was passed to import 350,000 cubic metres of surplus material from the upgrade of the A1 to motorway status between Leeming and Barton, meaning an additional area of the quarry could be restored to agriculture.

A Breedon Group spokesman said: “Unfortunately, the development was not implemented… as the surplus material arising from the A1 upgrade was disposed of elsewhere by the Highways Agency.

“Nonetheless, since completion of infilling in the currently permitted area, the applicant has received a number of enquiries from customers about the possibility of depositing inert waste arising from their works which is not capable of being recycled or reused in Barton Quarry.

“Currently the nearest inert landfill sites to Barton appear to Asenby near Thirsk which is approximately 30 miles to the south and Aycliffe Quarry to the north of Darlington.”

Only inert waste which is not suitable for recycling or re-use would be allowed to be imported and deposited in the site.

The documents detail plans to create “small fields of species rich grassland, planted with diverse native hedgerows and parkland trees and field ponds” at the site.

The Breedon Group said the proposals aimed to enable “a much improved and high standard of restoration at Barton Quarry which will result in significant net gains for biodiversity”.

The council has yet to receive responses to the proposals from statutory bodies and residents, but the firm said Barton Quarry’s location close to Junction 56 of the A1(M) meant the inert material could be transported to the quarry without the need for HGVs to travel through villages, so there would not be “any unacceptable impact on the environment or local community”.