Ladybridge Farm Application
On July 2, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) published its official announcement of Tarmac Northern’s application to extend its existing Nosterfield Quarry eastwards into the cornfields of Ladybridge Farm. Copies of the application and the accompanying mandatory environmental statement were issued to official consultees (including the Friends) and are also available for the public to examine at County Hall, Hambleton District Council and Bedale Library.
The Missing Archaeology
There was a vital omission from the environmental statement ~ the Archaeological Assessment. This is the document in which the developer must describe the results of his archaeologist’s investigations and attempt to prove that the Ladybridge site contains no buried remains of sufficient significance to warrant refusal of his application. Tarmac's explanation for this delay was that field evaluation of buried archaeology would be left until last, when all other objections had been resolved, in order to avoid unnecessary expense.
In fact, by 5 October, 665 objections had been received by the county council against 40 letters of support ~ far outnumbering those for any previous planning application on its records. Tarmac has neither “resolved” those objections nor accepted them as sufficiently persuasive to prompt withdrawal of its application.
Mike Griffiths, Tarmac's contracted archaeologist, has now completed his site sampling at Ladybridge, so his Archaeological Assessment is expected by the end of this year. Unsurprisingly, he has stated publicly that there is not much buried archaeology and, that, after years of research, he knows best. Mr Griffiths was County Archaeologist from 1975 to 1990 when quarrying took place close to the henges with no concern for buried archaeology.
When supporting the application for the current quarry, he said “The archaeology of the site displays little potential for contributing to archaeological studies” and the local authority accepted his word. Working ahead of the bulldozers, his own team subsequently unearthed over 200 finds at Nosterfield Quarry, dating from the New Stone Age to 50AD, the latter a spectacular ritual burial of four horses!
Revised Tentative Time-scale
Chris Jarvis, the county council officer dealing with the Ladybridge Farm application, on 5 October provided the Friends with an update of the authority’s anticipated timescale. He wrote:
“I can confirm that no report will be presented to the meeting of the Council’s Planning and Regulatory Functions Committee to be held on 26 October [as had been intended]. As you are aware, a number of consultees consider that further information is required in order for them to be able to comment fully on the submitted proposals. The County Council will be discussing the requirements for further information with the applicant and relevant consultees. It is then for the applicant to provide the required information and for the County Council to undertake a further consultation exercise upon its receipt. It is therefore unlikely that we will be in a position to present a preliminary report to the Committee until early 2005.”
By that date, representations had been received from the following official consultees:
No objections from the local drainage board, the local environmental health officer, DEFRA, English Nature or the Ministry of Defence;
Objections from the adjacent parish councils of Carthorpe and Well, the Countryside Agency, English Heritage, the Council for British Archaeology, the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, CPRE, the Friends of Thornborough (plus requests for outstanding archaeological assessment)
Request for more information from the County Archaeologist
Not yet received from the Landscape & Ecology Section of the County Council Heritage Unit, Hambleton District Council, Tanfield or Kirklington Parish Councils
When NYCC receive the outstanding archaeological assessment, it will re-advertise this application, specifying new submission dates for representations. Regardless of any future timetable, representations will be accepted up to the last minute, although officers would prefer them in time to be incorporated in their final report. The preliminary report referred to by Mr Jarvis will only be to request committee members to agree to a site inspection, a necessary procedural courtesy. Officers will take a recommendation to committee only when they feel in a position to make a balanced judgment upon all the issues involved, but the committee may still take a different view.
During this extended “consultation process”, the applicant is able to view objections and modify his submission in an attempt to overcome them. Accordingly, eleventh-hour reversals of officers’ recommendations are not uncommon. Planning authorities are now operating under instructions from central government that there should be a “presumption in favour of development” ~ meaning that reasons for refusal must be overwhelming. And Tarmac evidently believes that NYCC will find it difficult to refuse this application for an extension to a quarry which was approved by the same authority in 1995.
If the county council extends the consultation process beyond what the applicant considers to be a reasonable date, Tarmac can submit an appeal for non-determination, prompting an inquiry by the Planning Inspectorate. Under the law, only the applicant has the right to appeal if he is dissatisfied with a decision. People who disagree with a planning consent just have to live with it!
Thus, the procedural dice at Ladybridge Farm are already loaded in favour of the industrial giant ~ which is all the more reason for you to help by lining up as many people and organisations as possible to object in writing as advised below.
Why the Setting of the Henges Should be Protected
To a large extent, this is an difference of opinion between conflicting human needs: economics and heritage. The main arguments in favour of the latter are set out in the initial responses of both English Heritage (click here) and Dr Harding of Newcastle University (click here).
Basically, our contention is that Tarmac has failed to establish that the requirement for aggregates is so great, and alternative sources so lacking, as to justify the destruction of such an internationally important archaeological landscape.
Objecting to this Application
The Friends have been advised that rational objections based upon a careful analysis will be most effective in convincing the local authority that our national heritage matters more than one company's profits. Accordingly, our considered advice on how members of the public can object most powerfully is set out below.
HOW TO STOP MORE SAND AND GRAVEL QUARRYING IN THE SETTING OF THORNBOROUGH HENGES
Tarmac Northern has made clear its intention to progressively extend open-cast quarrying outwards from its processing plant at Nosterfield both further into the setting of the henges and towards the surrounding villages. The current application to excavate the cornfields east of Ladybridge Farm is the first step in that insidious process.
The more people who submit meaningful objections to this application, the more chance there is of convincing councillors that they should refuse permission. There will be no second chance, as only the applicant has the right to appeal, so act now! And, even if you’ve already objected, you can send in as many additional objections as you wish.
We have studied the three volumes of the planning application and have identified what we believe are the most potent objections. Local residents should click here for tailored advice on how best to object. People living elsewhere in the UK or overseas should read on.
Click here for the draft of a letter listing five major objections. If you are pressed for time, you can print it now and simply add your address at the top and your signature and name at the bottom ~ then mail it to the addressee. Alternatively, you may prefer to express your objections in your own way. In either case, please act now to make it clear that more than just a few locals object to the destruction of our national heritage