Victory in fight against Fritton Woods in sight

A COMMUNITY looks to have won its battle against plans for a quarry that would sweep away wildlife-haven woods.

For three years, people in Fritton and St Olaves have campaigned against the scheme to extract sand and gravel from Waveney Forest, triggering an action group, and a 20,000 signature petition as well as wildlife, heritage and health concerns.

Their war cry was heard from miles around, the ground-swell of opinion spreading from village to village as opposition to the scheme they said would destroy the haven, end public access, affect house prices and generate lorry movements, heated up.

Now, following several rounds of consultation and one apparently decisive win in the first round Norfolk County Council’s powerful cabinet committee is due to meet on Monday to approve a new list of sites.

During the drawn-out process a list of over 100 sites has been whittled down to 25 – a change in government mid way through moving the goal posts and lightening the county’s load in terms of the amount of materials that needed to be mined. In a report to cabinet members ahead of Monday’s crucial meeting, officers say: “It is felt that the sites chosen strike the right balance between proximity of the main settlements of the county (the users of most minerals and the sources of most of the waste), local environmental and amenity impacts and the need to avoid over concentration of sites in local areas.

It comes to the same “not allocate” conclusion at Fritton it came to in 2009 stating that although the site might be developable there were other sites with fewer disadvantages.

Members will also be asked to agree a further eight week round of consultation starting next month. In total, 4133 people and organisations have responded to the consultation which includes waste site allocations.

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The report adds: “The decisions on some sites are relatively straightforward, particularly if there are obvious constraints. For instance, an unacceptable local highway impact is a fundamental constraint - no matter what other strengths a site may have it should not be progressed.

“Some other factors – such as potential impact on house prices – cannot be considered at all....the acceptability of each site has been considered on its own merits.”

Allocated sites still need to be granted planning permission. Changes to the latest list would need to be “considered very carefully” and any that were withdrawn would need to be replaced.