Over 75 people group together for quarry protest walk

In February, local people came out in force for the second month in a row to protest the re-opening and expansion of Westdown Quarry near Nunney., on the edge of the ancient Asham Wood. 

Over 75 people went on the second campaign walk against Hanson Aggregates’ plans.  

A local resident, Richard Mawer, who attended the protest said, “On Saturday, over 75 people got a chance to see for themselves the extent of Hanson’s plans. Understandably, they were shocked at the prospect of such environmental destruction. They looked out over 100 acres of virgin farmland from which Hanson plan to strip topsoil, rip out mature hedges, dump the oolite waste into the old Asham quarry, and blast limestone, possibly until the turn of the next century.  

“The extraordinary decision by Somerset County Council (SCC) last July to allow the re-opening of Bartlett’s Quarry next to the Westdown site reversed ten years of SCC policy to prohibit concurrent quarrying in the immediate area, until extraction had permanently ceased at Torr and Whatley. The East Mendips now faces the prospect of four super quarries rather than two now – all operating concurrently. No wonder well over 500 objections have been lodged with SCC and thousands have signed the petition against these applications.” 

Cllr Francis Hayden, prospective Green candidate for Mendip Central said, “It is hard to see a perceived need for further quarry expansion from the applicant’s documents, it may be a desire to get applications in before Somerset County Council update their Minerals Policy in line with the Climate Emergency. As it is, our quarries currently provide for Hinkley, large roads expansion and HS2. All projects incompatible with our target of net zero by 2050.” 

Local resident Indra Donafrancesco added, “We are delighted with the recent Somerset Wildlife Trust report opposing the application and hope the Somerset County Council regulation committee will take notice and refuse the application. Two major impacts stand out from the wildlife experts’ responses; the first stating that 12% of the UK’s Greater Horseshoe bat live, breed and hibernate within the planning proposal catchment and the second reports on the ‘de-watering’ potential risk to woodlands, habitats, springs and wells for miles around from the changes to the water table from altered flow patterns. Nobody not even Hanson can predict the devastating effects of this new quarry.”