Brick-maker responds to quarry concerns, and now consults on new plans
Brick-maker Ibstock has submitted radically changed plans for the development of its Knutton quarry in Newcastle-under-Lyme, ditching proposals to leave a vast lake afterwards in response to local concerns about safety and flooding.
Newcastle’s MP Paul Farrelly discussed the new proposals with senior Ibstock executives at a meeting last Friday, and the company has since launched a fresh consultation with the local community in Knutton and Silverdale areas of Newcastle.
The application to deepen the clay quarry, with its valuable reserves of Etruria marl, has been under discussion for six years with Staffordshire County Council, as the mineral planning authority.
Paul had objected, on local residents behalf, to the previous plans, which were withdrawn by Ibstock before Christmas.
He told company executives that its company’s record of public engagement had been poor, given the alarm caused by the original plans for the restoration of the site, after reserves had been exhausted, which would have led to the creation of a huge lake running from Knutton to Silverdale.
“It is quite clear from the meeting last Friday the company has taken this criticism to heart and has radically improved its proposals for the restoration of the site once quarrying ends,” Paul said.
“Now the water will be pumped away and the quarry landscaped. It’s a radical change – and Ibstock also assures us that extracting the rest of the clay reserves will mean no more traffic than working the quarry today.
“We’ve talked at length about improving community engagement and I’m glad a full new consultation has now been launched. The quarry is important for the area economically, but local residents have to be listened to,” he said.
The Knutton quarry is vital, Ibstock says, to secure the long-term viability of brick-making at its local factories at Chesterton and Parkhouse, and to supply the Eternit tile works, owned by Marley at Keele.
During the talks, Mr Farrelly also raised concerns about the future of Jollies Field, the 27-acre ‘stand-off’ area that separates the quarry from the houses in Newcastle Street, Silverdale.
Ibstock Brick has been maintaining a football field on the site, used by Silverdale FC, but Newcastle Council has frustratingly still not exercised its Section 106 agreement to take Jollies Field into the Borough’s ownership, as it has repeatedly been pressed to do.
“It is vitally important that this land remains as a buffer zone and I will be pressing the Borough Council to honour its original agreement to take over its maintenance. This is a safeguard that local families want to see,” Paul added.
Staffordshire County Council will make the final decision on Ibstock’s revised planning application, and the public consultation will start with local exhibitions of the revised plans. Paul has offered to chair a public meeting in the village, if it helps improve dialogue, during the consultation.