Huge protest over henges
A HUGE number of objections are being delivered to County Hall today, protesting against a quarry firm's bid to extend its operations near the 'Stonehenge of the North'.
Thornborough Henge campaigners hope to have collected a massive 1,000 individual letters of objection against Tarmac Northern Ltd's plan to extend their sand and gravel extractions at Nosterfield Quarry.
The Friends of Thornborough and Heritage Action have also collected thousands more signatures on petitions, including on the internet, protesting against the threat to the prehistoric site, near Bedale.
Today they will be using a wheelbarrow to take the objections to North Yorkshire County Council which is set to decide on the issue.
Speaking of the massive support, George Chaplin, Heritage Action's Thornborough Campaign co-ordinator and member of the Friends of Thornborough, said: "We have really upped the ante; we want to make a splash and show the powers that be some clear confirmation of the level of support.
"We feel that by presenting the council with more objections than it has ever received for any application, we can send a clear message about the strength of public concern."
The campaign involved members visiting houses throughout the area and asking residents if they were interested in giving their support and writing a letter of protest.
Houses in Masham, Thornton Watlass, Newton-le-Willows, Well, Thornborough and Crayke Hall were all targeted and by Wednesday the group had already received around 600 letters with the promise of more to come.
Around ten per cent of the protest letters are from abroad, reflecting the international interest in the site, and an online petition has so far gained 3,300 signatures.
Although the statutory period for consultation officially ends tomorrow, people can still object to the application up to September 30.
Mr Chaplin said: "Once the statutory period is over we intend to concentrate on the quality rather than quantity of the objections as well as continuing the process of gaining international recognition for the Thornborough Henges.
In a statement, Tarmac Northern estates manager Bob Nicholson said the company shared the public's concern for local heritage and the need to protect the area of the henges.
"We have announced that we do not intend to go ahead with any planning application to excavate the area surrounding the protected henges, pending the outcome of a detailed English Heritage study which will reveal the extent of the area's competing land uses," he said.
"We have also explained that by progressing our application to excavate sand and gravel at nearby Ladybridge Farm in the meantime we will be uncovering artefacts which would otherwise be left undiscovered, or worse, damaged by modern agricultural practices.
"In fact, Tarmac has an exceptional record in the recovery and protection of important archeological finds.
"We also continue to operate an open door policy with all local interest groups and the relevant statutory authorities to ensure we work together to find a solution which protects our local heritage at the same time as drawing on much-needed resources for the region's construction industry."
Mr Alwyn Shaw, the county council's principal minerals and waste planning officer, could not confirm whether the number of objections was a record for such an application, as claimed by the campaigners.
"Everybody is entitled to make their views be known and we will look at them, read them, and present a summary of them to the planning committee," he said.
"This is a controversial application and there has been a lot of concerns, as there is with a lot of quarry and waste applications. They attract local interest."
Mr Shaw said a preliminary report would go before committee in October, and he believed a recommendation would be made that councillors undertake a site visit, probably in December.
"We would then have the full report with the full details and all representations heard. We accept that it is a difficult decision and we have to acknowledge people's concerns."
Posted by BrigantesNation
4th August 2004ce