Leaders of several communities have expressed alarm over plans to reopen a quarry in a remote rural area which has been disused since 1895.
Stainton Quarry Ltd lodged a proposal in April with North Yorkshire County Council to quarry 15,000 tonnes of sandstone annually from Gayles Quarry, near Ravensworth, and export blocks to SQL stone cutting plant at Stainton near Barnard Castle.
The firm has stated it is committed to working alongside residents to ensure the quarrying activities and eventual restoration of the area was carried out with “upmost consideration to the local environment”.
Planning documents submitted by the firm state the council’s highways officers had agreed the proposal was acceptable in principle and supported by national and local policies, subject to mitigation measures being introduced.
However, Highways England has said it could not support plans to route heavily loaded lorries onto the A66 near Ravensworth due to several serious and fatal collisions having taken place there in recent years.
In response the firm has revised its proposed transport route, taking the lorries from the quarry to Sturdy House Lane, along the steep incline of Barrack Bank and into Richmond, passing the secondary schools, through Skeeby to Scotch Corner, before travelling back up the A66.
North Richmondshire councillor Angus Thompson said the strength of opposition among communities in parts of his division was immense as the scheme intended to put lorries weighing up to 40 tonnes along lanes designed for packhorses and carts when the quarry was last used.
He said the firm’s plan to send 40-tonne lorries through Richmond in non-school hours as a temporary measure until the A66 is upgraded to a dual carriageway was “absolutely diabolical”.
Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons said despite not having been consulted or informed about the proposals, the town council had issued a holding objection to the scheme.
He said: “If one of them has a slight brake problem on Barrack Bank they would carry on down into Frenchgate and destroy the Green Howards’ war memorial.
“One solution would be to delay the opening of the quarry until the A66 is fully dualled.”
In a lengthy objection to the proposal, Ravensworth Parish Council said residents had “a level of disillusionment” with the ability of council planners to enforce planning permission constraints.
It stated: “Consequently, a recurring question in much of the discussion around the Stainton planning application is around how the limits proposed for such things as sound levels, weight limits, speed limits and numbers of traffic movements will be measured, monitored and enforced either by North Yorkshire County Council on Stainton Quarry Limited or by Stainton Quarry Limited on their haulage contractors.”