Quarry firm applies to extract millions of tonnes of stone from moorland above Horwich

A QUARRYING firm has applied to extend its operations on moorland close to Rivington Pike to extract a further 2.75 million tonnes of stone. Armstrongs Aggregates Ltd, which operates Montcliffe Quarry, Georges Lane, Horwich have asked for permission for an extension of approximately 3.2 hectares on green land to the north west of the quarry. The development, which has been the subject of 48 letters of objection, would release a further 2.75 million tonnes of gritstone and other aggregates.

A series of quarry benches would be created and a three metre high landscaped screening bund would be built. There would be a proposed average 25 HGV movements per day associated with the extended area which would be part of the existing permitted movements for Montcliffe Quarry, a maximum of 100 in and 100 out per weekday, and 50 in and 50 out on Saturdays.

The site is within the Greater Manchester Joint Minerals Plans which the firm says ‘makes a presumption in favour of sustainable minerals development’. A report to members of Bolton Council’s planning committee explored the effect of the quarry on views from nearby beauty spots. It stated: “There will be harm to the landscape of the area during the mineral extraction phase of the development.

“This visual impact is identified within the analysis as being most significant from the public rights of ways on the surrounding moorland and on higher ground towards Rivington Pike. “Given the temporary nature of the harm identified, officers consider that only moderate harm should be given to this impact on the planning balance.” Forty-eight objections have been made to the plans.

The concerns included encroachment into the green belt, that the quarry extension will be highly visible from surrounding public areas and the quarry will become too big and out of proportion with the surrounding landscape; Other issues from objectors included ‘neighbouring houses shake when there are blasts at the quarry’, ‘dust in neighbouring gardens, properties, cars and on roads’ and ‘mud and debris on local roads’. The report adds that Horwich Town Council  did not formally comment on the plans and that local councillor Richard Silvester has objected on the grounds that it is contrary to green belt policy.

Planning officers have recommended approval of the plans, which will be decided on by councillors on Thursday, February 18.

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