Crunch vote on future of Springwell Quarry - controversial plans to extend lifetime of operation up before councillors

The future of operations at Springwell Quarry will be decided next week when councillors discuss a bid to extend works.
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Thompsons of Prudhoe Ltd has applied to continue its recycling operations at the site which includes importing, sorting, crushing and screening non-hazardous materials.

Construction, demolition and excavation waste is transported to the quarry and transformed into ‘secondary aggregate’ for use in construction projects or for onward recycling.

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With existing permissions for the quarry expected to lapse in February 2022, developers have applied to continue works ‘in perpetuity’.

The entrance to Springwell QuarryThe entrance to Springwell Quarry
The entrance to Springwell Quarry

If approved, the changes would replace historic permissions and allow a ‘change in operations from quarrying and backfilling to waste reclamation, recycling and transfer.’

However, the plans have already sparked opposition with 69 objections, including a representation from Springwell Village Residents Association, and an objection letter signed by 25 residents.

Concerns range from dust, noise, traffic and mud on roads to impacts on heritage assets such as the Bowes Railway both now and in the future.

An objection was also lodged on behalf of Hellens Group claiming the continuation of quarry works is no longer acceptable in the context of a new Taylor Wimpey development in the area.

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During consultation, no objections were lodged from the Environment Agency about works continuing at Springwell Quarry.

Historic England added the impacts from the quarry are “not likely to cause substantial harm to the setting, nor significance” of the Bowes Railway.

Meanwhile, Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) planning authority say the scheme is acceptable on balance and have recommended it for approval.

In a report to councillors, planning officials said there would be no direct impacts on the Bowes Railway with the application outlining measures to meet policies around ecology and transport.

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Despite the location of the operations in the Green Belt, planners also concluded that continuing waste operations at the site would meet the ‘very special circumstances’ needed to outweigh any harm.

Planners added that the closure of Springwell Quarry, as result of refusing the application, would “detrimentally affect capacity for the sustainable management of construction, demolition and excavation waste within the region.”

SCC’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee will rule on the application at a virtual planning hearing on Tuesday, September 1.

The meeting starts at 5.30pm and will be broadcast on the council’s YouTube channel here:

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