Reasons to oppose the mining plans

There are a number of valid: agricultural, logistical, commercial, ecological, environmental, safety and community reasons to oppose the development of opencast mines in and around the Vale of Evesham and the River Avon. We are fighting for much more than the preservation of our communities.

Agricultural Resources

Within the Evesham Vale the sites that have been identified for mineral extraction are, in the vast majority, on Grade 1 agricultural land. In other words, the highest quality agricultural land type in the UK. This land is currently used to produce a range of crops from asparagus to wheat, fruits to barley in amounts that significantly contribute to the nation's food supply. Surveys completed by Natural England show that, in the Vale area, only 2% of total land is of this highest quality. We therefore believe it is imperative to maintain and protect this land for its continued use of food production. Tarmac, and other mining companies, argue that they can return land to its original state and use after 10-20 years of mining. This has yet to be proved on any exhausted site and is a claim Worcestershire County Council do not accept.

Photo: Rodger Fielder

This map, produced by Natural England, shows Grade 1 agricultural land shaded in blue. You can see how it clearly follows the River Avon as it winds its way through the Vale. Reference to maps showing areas marked for potential mining shows that all this land could be affected.

Source: Natural England Publications

So we say: No Vale Quarries

Logistical

Based on evidence from existing open-cast mineral mines it is estimated that there would be up to 50 truck-runs, per day, through the villages; dramatically and detrimentally affecting the noise levels, air quality and road safety within these quiet and safe villages.

We have two vibrant and thriving village pre-school and first schools within the area affected, and having these massive trucks passing directly outside them, particularly at the beginning and end of the school day, presents an unacceptable level of danger to our young children.

Many of the villages affected by these proposals are accessed along a fragile infrastructure of narrow, winding country roads without pavements or the build quality of main roads. The size of the trucks will be more than half the width of these lanes meaning that vehicles will find it difficult to pass. In addition, the winding nature of some of the lanes means that drivers may not see the danger until it is too late – serious accidents will occur.  

So we say: No Vale Quarries

Heritage

All the local villages have a number of buildings that are 'listed' and protected in terms of the development that can be done to them. In Fladbury alone, records show that along the 'main drag' to the village, i.e. Station Road, Church Street and Mill Bank, there are the listed buildings of the Church, Fladbury Mill and 18 private dwellings and in addition to those buildings there are a further 19 private dwellings together with the Social Club (old Parish Reading Room) and the Old School House that date from pre- the Great War- giving a total of 37 private dwellings and 4 public buildings of over 100 years of age that face onto the main roadway through the village. Even sympathetic small changes, such as requests to change a front door, have been rejected in recent months yet the council intends to allow the above mentioned trucks to thunder through the villages which will undoubtabley cause structural damage to these 'protected' buildings.

 

So we say: No Vale Quarries

Local Environment

There is no denying that an open-cast mine generating dust, noise and habitat destruction would have a significance impact of the ambience of the entire area.

The development of an open-cast minerals mine will adversely affect the peaceful and natural ambience of the area. Healthy walks which are enjoyed by hundreds of people, not just from the villages, would be ruined by unsightly destruction to farmland and natural habitat, dust and noise.

 

Furthermore, the trucks needed to transport minerals away from the mines are far too large for the 7.5 Tonne limit on many of the villages’ roads and would run much too close to people's homes causing structural damage over time.

 

Previous open-cast mines in the close vicinity, such as the site at Lower Moor, just off the A44 outside Fladbury, demonstrate that it is impossible to restore land to its previous use and state, after minerals have been extracted. Claims by the mining companies to do this are simply false. Even Capability Brown would find it a challenge too far!

 

Finally, the open-cast mines will dramatically alter the landscape character of the area both in the immediate locality and when seen from important vantage points. They will quite literally be a scar on the landscape.

So we say: No Vale Quarries

Photos: Rodger Fielder

Legal

The Worcestershire Local Minerals Plan is a long-term plan that is reviewed and updated from time to time. In previous versions of the plan there has always been this important clause which gives some limited protection to communities: 

 

"A cordon sanitaire will be in place such that no local settlements are within 200 metres of any mineral working site.”

 

It is very concerning - and sinister - that this limited clause, specifically designed to offer minimal protection to communities and households, has been removed by Worcestershire County Council from the latest plan.

As the proposed new plan does not cover any cordon sanitaire we have suggested an alteration to the plan with the addition of the following clause:

"A cordon sanitaire will be in place such that no local settlements are within 1 mile of any mineral working site". 

 

This suggestion will now be considered by the Inspectors during the Examination in Public (EIP) and we believe the council should adapt this clause to protect the communities they are elected to serve.

Councils also have a legal duty to inform residents of plans affecting their area. Meetings ‘advertised’ by the County Council and held in Evesham attracted 9 attendees, yet when the parish council organised their own meeting, to inform residents about the plans, over 250 people attended across two meetings. This clearly demonstrates that if the County Council had kept residents informed, as they are legally obliged to do on such matters, they would have had a much bigger response, and thus, understanding of community opposition to the policy.
 

Indeed, the parish council have already suggested to County Councillors that an article in the Wychavon News, a district council publication,  would be a reasonable way to keep residents informed but this has been rejected by council officials.
 

It feels like the Council are trying to gain approval for mining without genuine and constructive consultation with residents and the wider public. This point is further reinforced when you consider that Tarmac, the aggregates and construction business, have already completed advanced planning work for a site in Charlton, including attempting to purchase property on what would become an access road for the Charlton site; and engaging in detailed planning conversations with the County Council's Highways department. Why would they be attempting to spend all this money if they believed their future applications would not be accepted? Why are the County Council officials spending time with Tarmac when planning has not yet been granted - do they know something we don't?

So we say: No Vale Quarries

Local Tourism

Every year the Vale of Evesham attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors drawn by the natural, unspoilt countryside. The quality of soil and sheltered micro-climate enables many plants and fruit trees to flourish and is the reason for the vast abundance of orchards and fruit farms in the area. As well as supporting the local economy and providing vital employment, these fruit farms provide a wonderful annual display of blossom; which many tourists enjoy by following the popular 'Blossom Trail'. This spectacular annual show, provided by Mother Nature and reported to be the only one in the UK, is enjoyed by visitors to the area from all over the county and has been featured on the BBC's flagship rural programme 'Countryfile'.

 

Here's a copy of this year's trail.  

 

The proposed sites for open-cast mineral mining cut right through the heart of this ever popular and natural trail. We believe the significant contribution of the area to the nation's food security; tourism and; maintaining the natural landscape of the Vale, far exceed the need for some sand and gravel. Development firms argue that they can return a site to its natural state after 15 years of destruction. We have seen no proof of this from similar projects.

So we say: No Vale Quarries

© 2020 No Vale Quarries Residents Action Group.