A cloud of uncertainty is surrounding a controversial proposal to reopen a Victorian quarry off a remote unclassified lane to extract 225,000 tonnes of block sandstone over 15 years.
Community leaders said while Stainton Quarry Ltd had lodged a proposal in April last year with North Yorkshire County Council to resume operations at Gayles Quarry, near Ravensworth it remained unclear whether the proposal would become a reality.
The firm, which aims to export blocks to stone cutting plant at Stainton near Barnard Castle, sparked alarm among numerous residents over the scheme which would see blocks of stone transported by HGVs along rural lanes to the SQL stone cutting plant at Stainton, near Barnard Castle.
However, Stainton Quarry Ltd 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.
Nevertheless, National Highways has said the firm would not be allowed to route heavily loaded lorries onto the A66 near Ravensworth until a huge upgrade of the trunk road was completed, due to several serious and fatal collisions having taken place there in recent years.
In response, the firm revised its proposed transport route, taking the lorries from the quarry into Richmond, passing the secondary schools, through Skeeby to Scotch Corner, before travelling back up the A66.
Community leaders said by pushing HGVs from the quarry on a route through Richmond, identified traffic congestion issues at Scotch Corner would be exacerbated.
Concerns over the proposed HGV route have persisted over potential damage to a single track listed bridge with stone parapets the heavily laden trucks would pass over.
North Richmondshire councillor Angus Thompson, who has previously branded the proposal to direct HGVs through Richmond as “absolutely diabolical”, said planning officers were awaiting a concrete response over how the firm aimed to avoid damaging the heritage asset.
It is understood the potential cost, running into several hundred thousand pounds, of installing an alternative bridge, is being considered by the firm.
Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons said he had been expecting updates from council officers over the scheme, but none had been forthcoming since before Christmas.
Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons, who has previously called for the quarry’s opening to be delayed until the A66 upgrade is completed, said he was unaware of a solution to the transport issues surrounding the proposal.
Coun Parsons said: “If they grant permission those lorries have to go one way or the other. National Highways are not that keen and North Yorkshire’s Highways are not that keen on their rural network suddenly taking a pounding.”