A TRUCK maker has won the right to reopen a mothballed quarry to test its new products.
Caterpillar says it needs to use Witch Hill Quarry, near Shadforth, to test and develop new articulated dump trucks ranging in weight from 25 tonnes to 45 tonnes.
Witch Hill is several hundred metres from the villages of Old Cassop and Shadforth, but only 170m from Strawberry Hill Farm and its linked camping and caravan park.
A meeting of Durham County Council’s planning committee at County Hall in Durham City was told the owners of the caravan park objected to Caterpillar’s plan, fearing noise, dust and disturbance.
Objections were also received from councillors Carol Woods and Maureen Wood, and City of Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods.
All said they were concerned about increased vehicle movements and noise.
The committee heard limestone has not been taken from the quarry since 2005, although the licence for extraction does not expire until 2042.
Caterpillar wants to build some new graded tracks on the site and load and unload existing material.
No new material will quarried.
A maximum of 20 trucks will be delivered to the site each week, and no more than four trucks will operate at any one time.
Testing will take place 24 hours a day, but reversing alarms will be turned off at night, and the site monitored to insure only a minimum increase in noise.
Only the lower tracks and quarry floor will be used at night to further reduce noise.
Planning officers said the truck testing would not be significantly detrimental to the quality of life of those living nearby.
The Durham Business Group said jobs at Caterpillar and associated companies supported about 1,000 families in East Durham.
Caterpillar is the only manufacturer of this type of articulated truck and all production goes for export.
Councillors granted Caterpillar’s application to use the quarry as a testing site for the next three years.
The permission is subject to a range of conditions, including measures to reduce dust and noise.