Hanson UK has signalled its confidence in an upturn in demand for construction aggregates by securing planning consents for five quarry extensions in the last 12 months. Together they contain nearly seven million tonnes of sand and gravel.
Land and mineral resources director Mick Daynes said: "Lead times for securing new permissions, even small extensions, can be anything from two to five years. It’s important that we look ahead and ensure we are in a position to benefit when market conditions improve."
The five extended sites are at Earls Barton in Northamptonshire, Whiteball near Wellington in Somerset, Rickneys, near Ware in Hertfordshire, Newington in Nottinghamshire and Baston Fen, Lincolnshire.
The Rickneys application and subsequent negotiation of over 50 planning conditions, which took nearly three years, was one of the most time-consuming Daynes had ever experienced.
"It involved planners, lawyers and the quarry liaison group, who we met on at least a dozen occasions, and who fought hard over the wording of every single condition," he said.
The permitted area contains 1.24 million tonnes of sand and gravel. The quarry is currently mothballed and a further planning application will be required to erect a new processing plant.
At Earls Barton, the 155 hectare western extension will release 2.6 million tonnes of sand and gravel. The material will be transported to the existing processing plant off Station Road via a conveyor, passing through a culvert under the road.
The site will be restored to a combination of agricultural land, lakes, reed beds and wet woodland, which will require two million tonnes of inert landfill – soils and fill materials – to be brought in.
Materials quarried at Newington will be transported to nearby Auckey quarry for processing. A key condition of the consent was to agree routing for HGVs, along with a long-term management plan for the restored site and the establishment of a management committee.
The output limit has been increased to 150,000 tonnes a year and the southern area has to be worked over seven years.
The Whiteball permission for a further 1.4 million tonnes at Town Farm, Burlescombe, is the latest in a series of extensions to the site on the Somerset/Devon border. The material will be transported to the processing plant at Whiteball in road vehicles.
By contrast, this application was relatively straightforward. It took just four months from submission to gaining approval from the planners.
A north eastern extension at Baston Fen No 1 quarry in Lincolnshire contains around 700,000 tonnes of sand and gravel.
"Our in-house team has worked hard to secure these important permissions," said Mick Daynes. "Having tracked their progress, I know there have been some difficult issues to address but the results leave us well placed to sustain our current market and take advantage of the upturn when it comes."