It is extremely upsetting to read that a planning application has been submitted to excavate a quarry at Gorse Lane.
I had hoped that in the three years since the scheme was first reported by the Grantham Journal, the land owner Charles Welby would have acknowledged the overwhelming opposition to the proposal and sought instead to continue to preserve and enhance some of the most beautiful and diverse landscape in the county.
Although I no longer live in the area, I was born and grew up on farms which now border the proposed quarry site – Hill Top and Blackwell Lodge. My father continued to live in a cottage there until 2010 and my family still retains an emotional attachment to the area. As children we explored the fields now under threat. The area is rich in archaeological, ecological and geological features. As part of the Jurassic spine which runs from the Cleveland Hills of Yorkshire through Lincolnshire and onwards to the spectacular cliffs of Dorset, the limestone is abundant in fossils and forms an important natural aquifer which purifies and cleanses the waters which feed the many streams and natural ponds in the area.
Gorse Lane, the ‘Salter’s Road’ of ancient tribes, was once one of the principal roads linking the Fosse Way to the salt-producing sites around the Wash. Close by, and indeed within the site of the proposed quarry are the remains of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Anglo Saxon settlements. As children we collected fragments of pottery from newly ploughed fields – these are treasures of little monetary value but important parts of our collective heritage which will be forever lost if the quarry goes ahead.
Sewstern Lane, an old drover’s road and SSSI is now a major long distance footpath – the Viking Way, and a recent campaign led by the County Council and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has successfully banned vehicles from using sections close to where the quarry will be sited. The pathway is now a joy to explore. Walking through a carpet of wildflowers with the accompanying birdsong lifts the spirit and enriches the soul. This is a place of tranquillity and peace. Imagine what effect the noise, dust and disruption of a quarry would do to all of this. Imagine trying to cross Gorse Lane at its intersection with Sewstern Lane with lorries thundering by every few minutes.
Sentiment aside, from an economic point, it is difficult to understand the rationale for the proposal. At a time of increased concern for the UK’s food security as the effects of climate change and global conflicts start to impact, surely every acre of our best farmland should be preserved (the proposed site covers nearly 250 acres of Grade 2 and 3a soil which is some of the most fertile and productive). Conversely, not just Lincolnshire but every neighbouring authority has a glut of limestone aggregate in reserve – enough to satisfy a demand of between 20 and 40 years and sufficient landfill sites to fill with ‘inert’ (ie rubble from building sites) waste for a similar period.
Finally for villagers thinking this will only affect a small number of people living in Denton, the proposal includes an assessment of where the inert landfill waste will come from. The development sites identified within a 20 mile radius of Gorse Lane stretch across Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Peterborough. Despite assurances that the quarry operator’s lorries will follow a particular route, other haulage companies are very likely to use shortcuts to and from these sites – as unfortunately they do through my village which has a 7.5t weight limit. The ‘estimates’ of between 60 to 70 lorries coming to and from the site each day are likely to be woefully underestimated as the pressure to fill the site and utilise the on-site recycling plant come into play.
As a final display of its tactics, Mick George Ltd state that if this application is turned down they will seek to re-instate dormant permissions for mineral excavation which date back to the 1950’s when iron ore was quarried in the area. This would potentially lay waste larger swathes of land surrounding even more of our unspoilt, tranquil villages and rural communities. How does this chime with a company which is seeking to reassure the public and local authority that its plans are all about protecting – enhancing even - the environment?
I would urge the Grantham Journal and its readers to get behind GOLAG the group leading the fight to have this quarry turned down and act now. The planning application PL/0082/15 (S26 // 15) can be viewed on Lincolnshire County Council’s Planning Portal under Mick George Ltd.