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The Thornborough Henges


Henge fanatics

Letters to the Darlington and Stockton Times by DST readers - 12/03/04

Henge fanatics

Sir, - I am an employee at Nosterfield quarry, where the extraction of sand and gravel has been conducted for 50 years.

I have been reading and listening to reports by a small minority of people in the villages surrounding Nosterfield quarry who have set up a campaign and called themselves the Friends of Thornborough.

This group is campaigning to save the henges located on Thornborough moor. It accuses Tarmac (Nosterfield quarry's owners) of planning to destroy the henges and their settings. As an employee I know for a fact that the henges are protected and cannot be interfered with by anybody whatsoever.

I attended a meeting held by the Friends of Thornborough on March 4 to listen to their points of view. They know that Tarmac will not be quarrying the henges and for some reason they are hell-bent on trying to close down Nosterfield quarry and put myself and my colleagues out of work, using the henges as an excuse.

The majority of this group moved into the surrounding areas of Nosterfield quarry long after quarrying started. If they are against Nosterfield quarry operating why did they move here at all?

My colleagues and I are proud of the work we do at Nosterfield quarry, supplying one fifth of Yorkshire's sand and gravel. Why should we feel that our job security is being threatened by a group of fanatics out to spoil a tradition going back 50 years. Today's construction industry relies heavily on sand and gravel produced at Nosterfield quarry.

Bullamoor Road,

Quarry interests

Sir, - At the Friends of Thornborough meeting at West Tanfield last Thursday, Simon Smales (head of planning, North Yorkshire County Council) said that he had been disturbed by misleading statements which had been made concerning the council's involvement with mineral extraction and archaeology around Thornborough and Nosterfield.

I trust that he was referring to the county council's senior archaeologist's attempt to mislead another senior archaeologist by stating that there was no threat to the landscape around our henge complex from quarrying and that this "red herring" was the construct of a few individuals opposed to wetland restorations.

This was clearly aimed at people who are not opposed to well planned restorations, but who are strongly opposed to the county council-backed blue print for quarry restorations, spearheaded by the Lower Ure Conservation Trust on Nosterfield Nature Reserve.

The LUCT, which was set up in the Nineties with the prime objective to acquire quarried sites, has three trustees; one of whom is the county council's chief rural conservation officer. Part of his remit is to comment on the impact of quarry applications and after-use restoration plans.

This blueprint for the after-use strategy will be a supplement to the county's new minerals plan, which is heavily influenced by the Hambleton Biodiversity Action Plan - collated and launched by the LUCT.

Our national BAP was agreed following the 1992 Earth Summit, which says that one state must not cause environmental damage to another, and that food for an expanding world population must be provided by maintaining and improving existing agricultural land.

By quarrying and creating massive lakes, we are permanently removing some of the best agricultural land from use; thus placing the same pressures which previously destroyed much of our biodiversity on other areas of the world.

The county council has created an organisation which sucks in public money to purchase and restore quarry sites, and to publicise and promote the benefits of quarrying. This enables quarry companies to work in areas hitherto closed to them.

The whole issue is summed up by a Yorkshire Post article (Feb 11) headlined "Winning quarry wants to expand" which features a photograph of quarry chiefs standing in the Nosterfield Nature Reserve, pointing at plans for our henge complex surrounded by lakes.


Be sceptical

Sir, - On the face of it many people would welcome Tarmac's statement that it does not intend to proceed with a planning application for Thornborough Moor until after English Heritage completes its conservation plan for the area surrounding the henges. However, Tarmac has confirmed that it intends to proceed with the application for Ladybridge - this site is also covered by the conservation plan!

So what's the difference between the two areas? Many people have heard that more archaeology is likely to be discovered at Ladybridge and Tarmac's own web site seems to confirm this. So what is the difference between Thornborough Moor and Ladybridge?

Timing, it appears is the important factor. The fact is that the conservation plan is due out later this year, and that Tarmac have never intended to apply for planning permission for Thornborough Moor before 2006 at the earliest. The statement was therefore no more than corporate spin.

So, rather than a change of position, Tarmac's press release is actually a confirmation that they intend to continue with their plans unchanged - this was put across in a way that was likely to mislead members of the public and the press.

As your own headlines and the local people have confirmed, Tarmac's press release did fool a lot of people into thinking Tarmac had made a complete u-turn.

I suggest in future when Tarmac issue a press release we all take a far more sceptical and informed view of it. Let's make sure local people are presented the facts, not corporate spin.

Brompton Road,
Newton le Willows.
Posted by BrigantesNation
16th March 2004ce
Edited 16th March 2004ce

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