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County councillors vow to fight pit

PUBLISHED: 18:12 21 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 July 2010

Councillors vow to fight gravel pit

Councillors vow to fight gravel pit

COUNTY councillors have vowed for the first time to fight plans to create a gravel pit at Fritton branding the idea “totally wrong”.

Responding to threats that would see Waveney Forest “mutilated”, councillors said they were appalled that Fritton had been included in a list of more than 100 sites across Norfolk put forward by landowners as a potential mineral extraction pit.

COUNTY councillors have vowed for the first time to fight plans to create a gravel pit at Fritton branding the idea “totally wrong”.

Responding to threats that would see Waveney Forest “mutilated”, councillors said they were appalled that Fritton had been included in a list of more than 100 sites across Norfolk put forward by landowners as a potential mineral extraction pit.

Members of Great Yarmouth's area committee were briefed by Nick Johnson, planning services manager at the county council, at its meeting on Monday.

Labour county councillor Trevor Wainwright opposed the proposal. He said: “It's totally wrong. I know this decision is in the early stages but I will totally oppose this.”

Mr Wainwright said he was also concerned that it was the only option on the table for the Yarmouth area given that Norfolk County Council considered Yarmouth to be a growth area along with Norwich and King's Lynn.

Conservative councillor Bert Collins said a pit at Fritton would be an “absolute disaster” adding it was an area that should be retained. He said it would “mutilate” the countryside.

About half-a-dozen villagers bitterly opposed to plans attended the meeting and Keith Nunn, chairman of Fritton and St Olaves Parish Council, outlined their main concerns.

He said: “Half of the site is in the Broads National Park - who has ever heard of a gravel pit in a national park?”

Mr Nunn said the 326 acres of woodland served communities in Yarmouth and Waveney and provided a haven for dog walkers and families and they provided a valuable setting for orienteering.

He added that the woods were unique due to the range of animals and plants in the forest.

“The woods are recorded and contain world war one and two relics, old buildings and defence trenches. The archaeologists have so much to protect here that to scrape it all up into a sandpit would be sacrilege.

“There are no suitable roads and any access would have to be built but would eventually end up on the A143 which must be up to its capacity.

“Half the site is on a flood plain and the River Waveney could be contaminated from the minerals pit if it flooded.

“Last time we had heavy rain flood waters crossed the A143 and were immediately adjacent to the woods.”

Mr Nunn added that Fritton Lake was used for drinking water and that extraction pits were not usually allowed near drinking water.

A local campaign group, Fritton Action Rescue (FAR), is committed to saving the woods and has delivered thousands of leaflets and packs across the borough. And more than 7,000 people have put their signatures to paper and online petitions.

Mr Johnson explained the county council had to find 3m tonnes of sand and minerals each year for road and building projects for the county and stressed proposals were in the early stages.

More than 40,000 comments have so far been made about 108 sites already put forward

Mr Johnson said a list of acceptable sites would be published next year and a final report would be carried out by a planning inspector, who will make the final decision on which sites are approved for mineral extraction some time in 2010.

To sign the online petition visit http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/fritton-woods

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