Henges battle's new twist
A quarry firm has been warned it has a fight on its hands over plans to extend its operations next to an ancient site of national importance.
Campaigners this week pledged to step up their fight to protect the unique triple henge complex at Thornborough, north of Ripon, after it was revealed that quarry operators had submitted a planning application to extract more sand and gravel nearby.
National campaign group Heritage Action has formed a small sub-group to look at the issues surrounding the neolithic site and to support local action group, the Friends of Thornborough, in their fight against further quarrying.
The Friends have been building up support for the last year, and now Heritage Action are urging more people nationwide to back their cause – and protest against the planning application by quarry company Tarmac Northern Ltd.
Tarmac has just submitted proposals to North Yorkshire County Council for an area of 111 acres at Ladybridge Farm, which lies to the east of the current Nosterfield Quarry at Thornborough.
The company says the expansion is necessary to provide much-needed sand and gravel supplies to North Yorkshire's construction industry.
But the Friends this week accused the quarry company of sacrificing heritage for profits and said Tarmac was going ahead with the planning application despite being made fully aware of its national significance.
Jon Lowry, chairman of the Friends, said: "I can assure Tarmac that it is in for a long fight and call upon all citizens of this country to join our demand, by writing to their MPs, that the government takes immediate action to protect this outstanding example of our national heritage by declaring it an Area of Archaeological Importance."
Heritage Action is also urging people to protest against Tarmac's proposals to extend its operation around the henge site, which archaeologists have dubbed the 'Stonehenge of the north'.
It is asking members of the public to write to Prime Minister Tony Blair, his deputy John Prescott and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, as well as the county council.
The group's chairman, George Chaplin, who is also a member of the Friends, said this week there was pressure for the application to be called in by Mr Prescott, which would involve a public inquiry.
He added: "The site is Yorkshire's oldest and most important monument complex, and it's one that's already had a massive amount of damage done to it.
"We are going to make sure that the Thornborough issue reaches national headlines. It is important that the government is aware that this is a national issue."
Tarmac this week sought to give assurances that the proposals would not impact on the archaeology of the area because they do not include the area of Thornborough Moor, which contains the 5,500 year old henges.
And it said any future plans for the Thornborough Moor area would take full account of the archaeological and environmental value of the site.
Bob Nicholson, Tarmac's estates manager, said that, without an extension of the excavation area, Nosterfield Quarry would have to close in three years' time.
He added: "Tarmac will not pursue any further proposals until the findings of the English Heritage sponsored Conservation Plan are known.
"The application to extend the area of excavation to Ladybridge Farm includes detailed plans for initial soil stripping works to be monitored by a professional archaeologist to ensure any artefacts which may be discovered are investigated and recorded. There are also plans to fully restore the site to enhance biodiversity and nature conservation.
"As responsible quarry operators, this care and respect for the environment and its archaeological heritage, is standard practice for Tarmac."
For more information about Heritage Action's campaign see www.heritageaction.org. The Friends' website is at www.friendsofthornborough.org.
Posted by BrigantesNation
12th June 2004ce
Edited 14th June 2004ce