A GROUP of residents in west Cumbria are outraged following an application to restart quarrying at a site which is now recognised as both a special area of conservation and site of special scientific interest.

Plans have been submitted to The Lake District National Park Authority for the ‘determination of modern conditions for the future working of limestone’ from Clints Quarry at Moota, which, if approved by the authority, would see the former quarrying site reopened.

The application by D A Harrison and Sons Ltd of Silloth has already faced strong levels of objection from some local residents and opposers, who say that they are ‘deeply concerned’ at the thought of quarrying returning to the site.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the Penrith and Solway constituency, Julia Aglionby, has written to the national park authority after saying she has been approached by a number of residents concerned about the application to restart quarrying at Clints Quarry.

Ms Aglionby said: “As a former board member of Natural England, I am also deeply concerned about the development of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) as well as being located within the Lake District National Park boundary.”

The parliamentary candidate said that after reading the habitat assessment (HRA) submitted by the applicant, she agreed with Natural England who oppose this proposal on the grounds that it will have an 'adverse effect' on the integrity of Clints Quarry Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and 'damage or destroy' the interest features for which it has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Objectors are worried that 'there is a risk that there could be a significant population decline of great-crested newts due to the removal of three out of four of the current breeding ponds and one third of the terrestrial habitats' on the site.

News and Star: Clints QuarryClints Quarry (Image: NQ)

However, the company has said the site is needed as it is experiencing 'increasing difficulty' in securing limestone, and the application will underpin 200 existing jobs as well as supporting a 'modest increase' in employees.

Planning documents supporting the application said: "The company is experiencing increasing difficulty in securing a consistent and suitable quality supply of limestone. As such the company now incur the road mile costs of obtaining aggregates from Tendley, Moota, Annan, Brampton, Shap and if necessary, from Lancashire.

"Other operators in north and west Cumbria are reporting similar difficulties in obtaining the key primary materials needed to consistently produce important industrial, agricultural and construction products.

"Sourcing essential raw materials from outside of Cumbria has an economic cost. It also stifles the growth of the company and the businesses which it supplies. A further cost is to the environment as a consequence of fuel spent in transportation.

"The primary effect of the current supply network is the significant mineral road miles incurred in order to supply the materials needed. The transport assessment which informs the accompanying environmental statement identifies the significant reduction in transport that would occur as a result of the winning and working at Clints Quarry.

"The availability of the limestone resource would underpin approximately 200 supporting jobs within D A Harrison and Atlas Concrete Ltd. There would also be a modest increase in the number of employees, as these personnel would be required to operate the quarry."