Public inquiry into quarry proposals closes
With the close of the Hermitage Quarry Public Inquiry on Tuesday 18th December, Nick Yandle, Chief Executive of Gallagher Group, said:
“The Inquiry has lasted for over three weeks during which there has been a thorough review of the evidence presented by the various parties and an extensive series of site visits as required by the Inspector, Mr Ian McPherson.
“The parties (Woodland Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust, Kent County Council and Gallagher Aggregates Ltd) agreed as much common ground as possible ahead of the Inquiry to allow time to be dedicated to examination of the areas where there were differences of view and/or interpretation. Kent County Council, the Minerals Planning Authority, explained why it had resolved to approve the extension at its meeting in May 2011.
“The Inquiry was a mature, robust and open environment. Every day there was attendance from members of the public and interested parties.
“The Gallagher case was thoroughly prepared, evidence-based and presented by a team of experts under the leadership of Andrew Tait QC.
“We covered the need for the quarry extension which would liberate Kentish Ragstone for construction aggregate and building stone for new build and restoration projects. Evidence covered the absence of suitable alternative sites and the ecological implications including doubling the woodland footprint, the extensive planting of native species trees and the woodland management plan.
“The economic implications were covered including the preservation of more than 100 local jobs and skills for over 20 years.
“An important aspect was the continued supply of aggregates for the construction of new homes and roads and preserving the supply of building stone to maintain some of the UK's most important historic buildings such as the Tower of London and Canterbury Cathedral (both World Heritage Sites).
“With Hermitage Quarry being the only remaining source of quality Kentish Ragstone, the Inquiry received representation from organisations such as English Heritage, which supports a continued supply of good quality Kentish Ragstone.. As important was the decision of CPRE not to object to our proposal following a thorough review of the evidence.
“The application has carefully considered the interests of nearby residents, ramblers and horse riders, and it is important to note that the proposed quarry extension would happen in phases over more than 20 years, only affect 14% of the existing woodland (and only a small amount at any one time), all of which would be reinstated and enhanced once quarrying was complete.
“We must now wait for the Inspector to make his recommendation to the Secretary of State, whose decision is expected in April / May 2013.”