Page last updated at 07:04 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Inquiry on quarry planning bids in Pembrokeshire park

Quarrying work
The quarries' extension plans were called in by the Environment Minister

An assembly government inquiry into plans to extend two sand quarries in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is to open later.

The proposals for Trefigin and Pantgwyn were recommended for approval by the park's operating body in 2009.

But the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) claims it will damage the landscape of the national park and send the "wrong message" to quarrying firms.

The proposals would extend Trefigin for 17-23 years and Pantgwyn for 13 years.

Figures from the Planning Inspectorate show Trefigin has a remaining reserve of around 140,000 tonnes. That would give the site less than 2.3 years of life at current rates of extraction.

The site, which employs 22 people, is three miles south of Cardigan.

Trifigin quarry
The site at Trefigin would be be extended by more than 27 acres

The planning application includes an extension to the south and west covering 11.27 hectares (27.8 acres) which would be quarried at between 60,000 and 80,000 tonnes per year, giving it between 17 and 23 years' extra life.

Pantgwyn Quarry, in the north of the national park, which employs 25, is described by the assembly government as "all but worked out". The quarry covers an area of around 12.4 hectares (30.6 acres).

The proposed extension has an estimated 1.1m tonnes of material that would be quarried at 80,000 tonnes per year giving it more than 13 years more life.

Both applications were called in by Environment Minister Jane Davidson AM.

'Rigorously assessed'

The national park authority said it had "rigorously assessed" the proposals to extend the quarries, taking into account the economic and social wellbeing of communities within its boundaries.

We have worked closely with the Campaign for National Parks on a number of projects but in this particular case, have opposing views
Cllr Mike Williams, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

It said it would justify its assessment that conditional planning permission should be granted.

Cllr Mike Williams, chairman of the authority's development management committee, said the authority was of the view the proposals to reinstate the land would "provide a richer and more diverse landscape" in the longer term.

He said: "We have worked closely with the Campaign for National Parks on a number of projects but in this particular case, have opposing views."

The quarry plans do not pass the strict national policy test of the Welsh Assembly Government
Campaign for National Parks

The CNP is to argue the proposed extensions to the quarries should be refused, with alternative supplies of sand and gravel sought outside the the national park.

Deputy chief executive Ruth Chambers said: "The quarry plans do not pass the strict national policy test of the Welsh Assembly Government which only permits major quarrying in national parks when there are exceptional reasons such as if the quarries deliver a mineral of national importance, which these sites do not.

"The end dates of both quarries have been known for some time and we are concerned that there has not been enough effort by the companies involved to find alternative sites outside the national park.

"Permitting the extensions would send the wrong signal to companies who should be searching for alternative supplies outside the national park rather than bidding to carry on digging it up."

The inquiry, held in Nevern, is due to sit for four days.



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SEE ALSO
Al Fayed campaigns against quarry
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Quarry project receives approval
07 Jul 09 |  South of Scotland
Woodland fears over quarry plans
19 Mar 04 |  South East Wales

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