Residents digging deep to fight Hythe quarry plan for ‘noisy’ new machinery

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Pictured from left are Cllr Dan Poole,  Cllr James Binns, and Moira and  Richard Johnson

RESIDENTS living near a sand and gravel quarry in Hythe have hit out at an application to allow extra machinery onsite to sort through materials.

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TJ Transport Ltd, which operates Forest Lodge Home Farm in Fawley Road, applied to Hampshire County Council, as the mineral planning authority, to extract materials for the local construction industry. It was approved in 2017.

Under conditions imposed by the county council, a limited amount of equipment is to be kept onsite. The company also agreed not to carry out screening, crushing or washing of any materials or waste onsite.

However, it has now submitted a revised application to New Forest District Council, as the local planning authority, to remove those conditions.

Resident Margaret Bunday, whose home is just 14 metres from the site, told the A&T: “We didn’t want it there, but it went through. We had absolute assurances that grading would never be done onsite, but now they are [asking for it]. We are so upset.

“The noise will be horrible – and the dust. It’s taken value off my home. It’s certainly not the Christmas present we wanted.”

Fellow resident Moira Johnson, who is a member of the Netley View Residents’ Association, is also against the plans. She submitted a letter to NFDC on behalf of the group, saying members were “highly disappointed” in the conduct of TJ Transport.

The entrance to Forest Lodge Quarry in Fawley Road, Hythe

“[They] have told us and HCC officers they would not be grading or screening onsite,” she said. “The timing of this we find highly suspect – over Christmas and in between liaison meetings [for residents]. This is not the way to work with a local community.”

She added: “This will affect the wellbeing of residents and amenities, and is highly likely to bring unacceptable noise levels. The current levels are already considered unacceptable by the residents closest to this site.”

Documents submitted to the district council on behalf of the company state that a noise assessment has been carried out, which shows there will be no significant changes. The document states: “Worst-case noise levels generated by temporary operations, including site preparation works, would remain below the 70-decibel noise limit.”

A planning statement compiled by SLR Consulting Ltd on behalf of TJ Transport Ltd and submitted to the council states: “Following the commencement of operations at the site, as the dig has progressed and moved through the deposit, the clay content in the sand has significantly increased, making it difficult to extract the reserves and offer a product to the marketplace.”

It continues: “The solution therefore put forward is to enable a screening plant to remove the small/medium clay particles in the sand to enable the sand to continue to be viable as a building/mortar sand.

“Without screening, the clay content is effectively precluding the sand from many markets, which in turn will hinder the site progress to a point where an extension in time is required. The revised changes to the aforementioned planning conditions will enable a better quality of product to be won from the site and increase the speed of extraction to keep in alignment with the timescales specified within the original planning application.”

Hythe and Dibden Parish Council is also against the plans. In a statement sent to the district council, it wrote: “The committee wishes to see the original conditions maintained because they were put in to protect the environment and wellbeing of the residents who live close by.”

Cllr James Binns, who is a parish councillor as well as the district council’s cabinet member for leisure and wellbeing, has opposed the plans. He said: “I believe this application would give rise to significant adverse effects on the quality of life of local residents and increase noise to nearby properties.

“The machine proposed is the R1555 – a machine with 130-horsepower and designed to cope with the heaviest of applications. This is certainly not what residents were promised when this application was submitted and approved.”

Cllr Binns added: “The Forest Lodge Liaison Panel, which TJ Waste [a subsidiary of TJ transport] attends, met only three months ago and was given no indication of this imminent planning application, in spite of noise complaints being raised by residents regarding existing operations.

“The panel was set up to promote good communication between the site operator, councillors and the local community. However, TJ Waste have blatantly sidestepped the group and pushed ahead, irrespective of the assurances given and without consulting the views of local residents.

“If TJ Waste really do want to be good neighbours, as they often state they do, then the best Christmas present they could give the community would be the gift of withdrawing this application.”

The company’s managing director, John Gosling, told the A&T: “We have identified an urgent need to screen material arising at the site and have proposed a variation of planning conditions in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

“As the dig has progressed and moved through the deposit, the clay content in the sand has significantly increased making it difficult to extract the reserves and offer a product to the market place.”

He added: “We remain committed to supporting and engaging with the local community and our next liaison panel meeting is scheduled to take place 1st February.”

A decision on the application is expected to be made in the new year, once the consultation period ends on 6th January.

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