Relief as landfill scheme is dropped

There was a bittersweet victory for campaigners last night when the Forestry Commission announced it was pulling out of plans to turn areas of woodland into massive quarry and waste sites.

There was a bittersweet victory for campaigners last night when the Forestry Commission announced it was pulling out of plans to turn areas of woodland into massive quarry and waste sites.

For weeks there has been fierce opposition to proposals for quarry-ing, landfill and waste recycling centres at Hockham Wood, near Thetford, and West Harling Woods at East Harling.

The sites are two out of more than 100 potential mineral extraction, and 64 waste management sites, identified by Norfolk County Council to meet housing and infrastructure needs.

But local people were horrified at the proposals which would see the destruction of 128 hectares of forestry and woodland at Hockham and 399 hectares at Harling, and held a series of protests.


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Last night all their hard work paid off when the Forestry Commission revealed it had withdrawn two of its three sites from consultation.

John Kitson, chairman of Wretham Parish Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted. We thought that the idea of a site at Hockham Woods was wrong and it shows that proper and sensible opposition does have an effect. It is unusual for a site to be withdrawn before the end of the public consultation exercise.

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“If the proposal had been given the go-ahead, Hockham and Wretham would have endured four decades of noise, heavy traffic and nuisance and the operation would have spoiled a lovely piece of natural Breckland countryside with a whole list of scientific conservation labels.”

Philip Edge, chairman of Harling Parish Council, said it was a “relief” the plans had been withdrawn.

Stuart Burgess, from the Forestry Commission, said discussions with the county council “had made it clear, given the environmentally sensitive nature of the sites and size of the mineral reserves, our sites were unlikely to be needed.”

Adrian Gunson, county council cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “I'm glad for the residents that what they see to be a major threat to their environment has been removed by the Forestry Commission.”

But the celebration was short-lived for members of Hockham and Wretham in Tandem Against Gravel Extraction (Hawitage), who vowed to find out why the proposals were put forward in the first place and stop a similar situation occurring again.

And residents near Bintree, the Forestry Commission's one remaining site, will still be campaigning to prevent work being held there.

The consultation by Norfolk County Council ends on April 25 and will be followed a further consultation on preferred sites in the summer.

www.hawitage.co.uk.

www.bintreeinfo.co.uk.

For a full list of the villages affected, visit www.edp24.co.uk.

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