September 7, 2008

‘We’Ll Become the Lake District of Lincolnshire’

When they moved in, Witham St Hugh's residents probably thought they would enjoy all the benefits of country living - open fields, rural tracks and woodlands.

But now they could be forced to endure a decade of heavy industrial quarrying too.

And this will be followed by the creation of lots of small lakes - where the empty pits have been filled in with water.

Quarrying on land between Witham St Hugh's, south of Lincoln, just off the A46, and Norton Disney to the south has already created three lakes - with three more on the way.

But work there will come to its natural finish in four years.

Then Mexican-owned company Cemex wants to move on - just across the road to the disused Swinderby airfield.

There it plans to spend 10 years extracting more sand and gravel and leaving behind more lakes when it is finished.

Residents and community leaders have given a mixed reaction to the application for planning permission submitted to Lincolnshire County Council.

Thurlby Moor resident Richard Broom (54), joked: "We're going to be the Lake District of Lincolnshire."

But he has his concerns too.

"Financially it could affect us as it could be an issue if we try to sell the house," he said.

"There are also issues about noise and dust to consider.

"Some farmers downstream of the lakes are worried that their fields will be flooded and crops lost.

"But it could be a lot worse - it could be landfill and we're looking forward to looking out onto the lake.

Yet one resident, who has not been named, has e-mailed the county council objecting to the application "in the strongest possible terms".

The e-mail threatens legal action, saying the works will scar the landscape.

North Kesteven District Council has also objected, saying Cemex has failed to say how it would protect the natural ecology of the area.

Cemex has bought the operation which has been going under various companies since the early 1980s.

Processing facilities would be constructed on the site and a recycling centre would be set up to deal with up to 30,000 tonnes of concrete and other materials from old runways.

Production from the site is anticipated to peak at 600,000 tonnes per year with all materials transported off site via the Halfway House roundabout on the A46.

Traffic from the site will be diverted away from Norton Lane and Station Lane - two roads currently used by company drivers.

That, said Thurlby Parish Council chairman Roy Martin, is a bonus.

"Most of the residents would like Cemex to get up and go but that's not going to happen and it's a matter of making the best of it," he said.

"The residents are very pleased that HGVs will be leaving the site another way."

But farmers downstream of the lakes are concerned about flooding, said Mr Martin.

Water that is drained from Swinderby Airfield will be drained into Thurlby lake - the largest lake to be constructed in the quarry so far.

No-one at Cemex, Lincolnshire County Council or North Kesteven District Council was available for comment.

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