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Quarry meeting branded a shambles

PUBLISHED: 17:26 18 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:00 07 July 2010

Protestors have labelled a public event outlining proposals for hundreds of quarries and landfill sites across Norfolk a total shambles.

Norfolk County Council held an event to discuss sites put forward by land owners and developers for 104 quarries and 64 landfill sites across the county at council offices in Dereham on Monday.

Protestors have labelled a public event outlining proposals for hundreds of quarries and landfill sites across Norfolk a total shambles.

Norfolk County Council held an event to discuss sites put forward by land owners and developers for 104 quarries and 64 landfill sites across the county at council offices in Dereham on Monday.

But protestors turned out in such numbers it had to be moved from a reception area to a committee room and then to a second room.

Members of the Hockham and Wretham in Tandem against Gravel Extraction (Hawitage) and Bintree woods protest groups turned up with placards and said they were angry there were no signs to the event, that council officers would only people one at a time and that they would not record people's comments.

Lynn Hollings, a member of the Bintree woods protest group, also said protesters were told they could not take photographs at the event because it was council policy.

“Everyone is so disappointed, it was a shambles,” she said. “There was no exhibition to talk of, just the documents we already have, they would not tell us about the schemes and would only answer specific questions.

“And they wanted us to queue one by one to ask questions. It was ridiculous, we would have been there all day.”

She said many people still did not know about the plans and that the council should have sent information out to every household in the county.

Breckland Council said initially about 20 protestors, many from Bintree, turned up to demonstrate against proposals, which are needed to plan for Norfolk's sand and gravel and landfill needs.

By lunchtime there was about double that with many people coming and going all day.

Others came from North Tuddenham, Longham, Beeston and Hockham.

Norfolk County Council said it encouraged people to take part in the consultation, for which documents could be found on their website and at council offices.

A spokesman admitted that the council had underestimated how many people would turn up and that a big problem was that many people turned up at one time, but that five previous events had ran smoothly.

He said that there seemed to have been a misunderstanding of what was going to be on offer and that it was never planned to be an exhibition or public meeting. It was meant to offer help and understanding on the consultation process.

On Monday the Forestry Commission, which is behind the Bintree woods and Hockham woods proposals along with a site with nightjar and woodlark at Harling and a site at Methwold Warren, said the sites had been selected following a national review of mineral reserves on the Forestry Commission estate in England in 2004.

A spokesman said sites with major environmental issues, including being ancient semi-natural woodland, had been excluded.

And that if any sites were considered suitable, the commission would work with operators to minimise environmental impacts and ensure high quality restoration work.

About 150 people from Bintree attended a public meeting in the village church on Friday night over the quarry schemes and a further 80 people had attended Wendling Parish Council's meeting on Thursday night.

The consultation by Norfolk County Council ends on March 28. It will be followed by a further consultation of preferred sites in summer.

Sunday's meeting of the Norfolk and Suffolk Junior Motocross Club was interrupted for a show of solidarity, as club members joined local protestors campaigning against a controversial quarry and landfill site.

They united with people from the neighbouring villages of Hockham, Wretham and Illington in opposing the proposal by the Forestry Commission for a 4 million tonnes quarry development, and subsequent landfill. It would mean the youngsters would lose their track for ever and the successful club has been shocked by the announcement.

A spokesperson for the club said the proposal had come completely out of the blue, and that they would help the villages as much as possible in their fight against the plans.

The site assessment suggested the club was a constant disturbance to the villages. “But we only have a meeting once a month and the racing is restricted to a strict six hours,” said a concerned 12-year-old.

Objectors have set up HAWITAGE (Hockham And Wretham In Tandem Against Gravel Extraction) whose campaign banners were displayed at the meeting.

Visit www.hawitage.co.uk for more information about the proposal.

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