A CAMPAIGN group is preparing to fight a second quarry application within a five-mile radius.

After launching the Save Tyne Valley group following plans by Thompson’s of Prudhoe to extract sand and gravel from a site at Anick Grange Haughs, near Hexham’s Egger factory, campaigners have unearthed plans for a similar, yet much smaller, quarry at West Wharmley, near Newbrough.

Both sites have been identified by Northumberland County Council as suitable sites to excavate as part of its draft local plan, which is in its third and final stage of public consultation. Running until March 13, the six-week consultation period started yesterday.

Members of Save Tyne Valley were dismayed to learn of the second quarry site a matter of miles away from the Anick site. A petition against the Anick quarry has attracted more than 2,500 signatures.

Group chairman Dr John Halliday said: “To have massive gravel pits both east and west of the town centre and the historic Hexham Abbey would be bad for trade, the environment and for people’s lives. This is sheer folly from a council which says it is unashamedly biased towards the tourism industry and which has publicly stated its commitment to respect and protect our beautiful county.”

The quarry sites, along with an extension to Wooperton Quarry in Powburn, near Wooler, were identified as suitable locations to excavate in the county council’s draft local plan to meet a national demand for sand and gravel.

The document stated: “The Local Aggregate Assessment forecasts an annual demand of 420,000 tonnes from Northumberland. Based on this forecast demand, the current reserves with planning permission for extraction would provide for 12.8 years of provision from the end of 2017.”

l See page 5 for more details on the draft local plan.