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Latest News

  1. Tarmac has submitted a new application to further extend its open-cast quarrying in the vicinity of the Thornborough Henges. The whole application can be found on https://onlineplanningregister.northyorks.gov.uk/register/PlanAppDisp.aspx?recno=8037 and click on 'documents'. The non-technical summary of the application (which should contain all the salient facts, but does not i.e. the real long term after-use is going to be a sailing lake) is on Non-Technical Summary. FoTH have made two responses to the application FoTH Consultation Response and FoTH Additional Response. The Thornborough Heritage Trust has submitted this response:- Letter from Thornborough Heritage Trust. NYCC has stated that the landscape is of international significance in this document: Historic Environment Consultation It is important to note that the Application must be decided on the new National Planning Policy Framework:- http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/2116950.pdf

  2. Dr Jan Harding, a leading Neolithic/Bronze Age researcher, is kick-starting a number of initiatives under the label 'The Ure-Swale Archaeology Forum' (USAF) to encourage community involvement in protecting prehistoric remains in this North Yorkshire landscape. The programme for a workshop he is organising at Newcastle University on 6th July 2012 is available here, while you can join the new Thornborough Heritage Trust at their website here.

  3. In making his judgment in the Judicial Review (see last highlight below), Mr Justice Hickinbottom set great store in the evidence provided by Tarmac’s contract archaeologists. Yet, in its response to the Conservation Plan consultation in March 2006, the Lower Ure Conservation Trust had already warned NYCC that “Caution is certainly needed in reading Tarmac’s archaeologist’s reports too literally - by way of example:

    • ‘larch’ is stated as being one of two predominant tree species in the Thornborough area during the Neolithic (Griffiths & Timms, 2005); it is generally acknowledged that this species was introduced into Britain just under 400 years ago.

    • A muddled sentence states that elk Alces alces and ‘megaloceros’ (Irish elk) Megaloceros giganteus ‘had not been extant in Britain since the Pleistocene’(Rowland, S., 2004); however, Yalden (1999) clearly demonstrates that elk survived at least until the Bronze Age and megaloceros in Yorkshire until the Late Glacial (est. 12,850 BP).

    • Reference in the Ladybridge Minutes (Timms, 2005) refers to ‘dense alder woodland’, based on the Durham University work. The monograph has not been published and the results we have seen would certainly place the word ‘dense’ under question. (Care also needs to be taken in recognising ‘blind spots’, particularly in pollen analysis.)

  4. In April 2010, NYCC launched the first formal consultation stage for its Minerals Core Strategy, which includes Tarmac’s proposal to enlarge Nosterfield Quarry even further by gaining ‘Preferred Area’ status for new extensions. If you wish to make comments, e-mail your contact details to

Campaign Highlights

  1. In November 2002, Tarmac Northern publicly displayed its proposals for future quarrying around the Thornborough Henges. The previous day, the company had presented these proposals to local landowners and representatives of the county, district and parish councils.

  2. Several months later, at an overflowing public meeting, archaeologist Dr Jan Harding of Newcastle University explained the significance of his recent finds in the vicinity of the henges and emphasised the necessity of preserving the wider prehistoric landscape for future study. Concerned members of the public volunteered their services and the Friends of Thornborough Henges started campaigning in earnest.

  3. On 27 March 2003, a conference on the henges was staged at Northallerton, the county town, by the Council for British Archaeology, Yorkshire Group, and the Yorkshire Archaeology Society. Despite personally-addressed invitations, not one county councillor attended. The presenting archaeologists were Prof Geoffrey Wainwright, Dr Peter Addyman, Dr Jan Harding, George Lambrick, Terry Manby, Mike Parker-Pearson, Dave Macleod, David Miles, David Fraser, and Mike Griffiths. The proceedings were not recorded but a press release by the organiser can be read by clicking here. An amended version of the presentation by the Friends, “A Community View of the Archaeology of the Thornborough Henges Complex” is available. ~  Read document 

  4. Later in April, BBC 2 repeated its 30 minutes “Time Flyers” programme on “The Stonehenge of the North”. The Friends have been supplied with a 12 minutes abridged version.

  5. In February 2004, North Yorkshire County Council established the Thornborough Henges Consultation & Working Group as a forum to enable stakeholders to “work through consensus and agreement” to evolve an acceptable policy for the area around the henges. Somewhat sceptically, the Friends accepted an invitation to join the group on the basis that it was preferable to participate in any negotiations, knowing that we could continue to criticise other stakeholders if necessary.

  6. In March 2004, English Heritage issued a policy statement on Thornborough Henge. ~ Read document

  7. At an open meeting on 4 March 2004, presentations were made to the Friends by Tarmac Northern, English Heritage and North Yorkshire County Council, and verbatim notes (plus our comments) have been produced.  ~ Read document

  8. On 4 July, 2004, Tarmac Northern submitted an application to extend its open-cast destruction of the setting of the henges on to Ladybridge Farm (see map), which is owned by co-applicant Ambrose Almack. See our press release which warns residents of adjacent villages that they are in line for the same treatment as already suffered by those of Nosterfield.

  9. On 16 August, the Friends distributed to local residents advice on how to object in writing to Tarmac's Ladybridge farm application. To view this, click here. For objectors who live elsewhere in the UK or overseas, tailored advice can be found on the LADYBRIDGE page.

  10. Lord Redesdale, Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group has confirmed that its 146 members are waiting to see Tarmac’s missing archaeological assessment in support of the application to quarry Ladybridge Farm. A far-reaching report into the state of British archaeology by APPAG has revealed that weak government support is putting the country’s heritage at risk.

  11. The Friends have employed an experienced campaigning lawyer to produce legally argued objections to Tarmac's Ladybridge Farm application. Read document

  12. In late January, 2005, English Heritage was at last in a position to issue the agreed brief allowing selected consultancies to submit bids to produce a Conservation Plan covering the setting of the henges. It has taken two years to reach this stage since English Heritage first introduced this idea to the other stakeholders.

  13. Tarmac's archaeological team has posted an Interim Report on its extensive findings at Nosterfield Quarry on

  14. Atkins Heritage has been appointed to produce the Conservation Plan for the Thornborough Henges complex and its associated landscape by the end of July, 2005. English Heritage’s brief for this work is available to read here. A series of meetings are being arranged to explain the conservation plan to local communities and gain their input.

  15. In mid-March, Tarmac announced that it will press ahead with an application to extend Nosterfield Quarry eastwards on to Ladybridge Farm. This prompted over 700 written objections from all over the world ~ even before our petitions, which contain thousands of signatures, were submitted.

  16. English Heritage has completed a detailed aerial survey of the 20 sq km area around the Henges.

  17. We have recently had articles printed in the Yorkshire Dales Review and the Newsletter of the Yorkshire Archaeology Society’s Prehistory Section, but neither Heritage Today nor the National Trust’s magazine is prepared to feature the Thornborough Henges controversy.

  18. The decision to quarry Ladybridge has been postponed pending a more thorough and detailed archealogical examination of the Ladybridge Farm site. The result of this archaeological investigation have now been published and have resulted in further objections from English Heritage, the Council for British Archaeology and Dr Harding you can view these objections by clicking on the respective link.

  19. Tarmac's planning application to extend its Nosterfield Quarry eastwards on to Ladybridge Farm was rejected by North Yorkshire County Council on 21st February, 2006. . This was because English heritage advised that the south-west quadrant of the site contained buried archaeology of national importance. Notes of the meeting can be read here. Tarmac both appealed against that decision and submitted a second application to quarry 70% of that site whilst preserving the south-west area behind a bund.

  20. Our response to Tarmac's amended current application to quarry Ladybridge Farm was submitted on 22 September 2006. Both the executive summary and the supporting document can be read here.

  21. With no objections forthcoming from English Heritage and our non-archaeological objections outweighed, the second Ladybridge application was approved on 16 January, 2007, and Tarmac withdrew its appeal against the earlier decision. The minutes of the NYCC Planning Regulatory Committee on the 16 January 2007 relating to the planning application by Tarmac are available here.

    The amended decision granting permission to Tarmac for the use of Ladybridge farm dated 23 October 2007 are available here.
  22. The one consolation at that time was that, with the help of a geologist supporter, we persuaded the Environment Agency to request an extra condition. That required Tarmac to first prove by thorough investigation that its intended quarrying will not threaten the henges with collapse by accelerating dissolution of the gypsum underlying the sand and gravel.

  23. The formal decision notice for the 16 January 2007 approval of the revised Ladybridge application was not issued by NYCC until October 2007, following completion of a detailed agreement with Tarmac covering conditions attached to the permission. The Friends promptly made a legal challenge criticizing eight questionable aspects of the planning consent. After some huffing and puffing, the county council admitted to three errors and its planning decision was quashed. The preparatory earthmoving work already being undertaken by Tarmac on the Ladybridge Farm site then had to stop.

  24. The press releases by the friends of Thornborough Henges issued on the 5 December 2007 and 10 December 2007 respectively draw attention to the abuse of the conditions applied to the granting of the planning application to quarry Ladybridge Farm

  25. After nearly 4 years’ consultation by stakeholders, opposition from landowners and mining interests resulted in the shelving, after the public consultation stage, of the landscape conservation plan proposals produced by internationally renowned consultants Atkins Global. Although the Advisory Group was terminated in November 2007, the relevant page on the NYCC website fails to report the abortive outcome of this longwinded and fruitless exercise.

  26. The story in the attached press cutting has appeared only because the reporter noticed the upcoming agenda item for 22 April 2008 and started asking questions. The canny reader will notice that, even in this statement, NYCC has failed (as it has done in response to our direct requests over the previous 4 months) to explain why it did not incorporate in its planning decision notice the two conditions relating to ground water and hydrogeology that were added by its committee when deciding to give consent for quarrying.

  27. The quashed approval for Tarmac's much-delayed revised application to quarry Ladybridge Farm was, as anticipated, confirmed by North Yorkshire CC on 26 August 2008, and was based upon the officers' report available (comprising the last four items referenced from that page).We objected strongly to the wooliness of the initial terms and conditions and we understand they are being re-drafted. Until the official decision notice is issued, we cannot take further legal action.

  28. Meanwhile, the mining company's attempt to extend Nosterfield Quarry even further by gaining ‘Preferred Area’ status in the new Minerals & Waste Development Framework has received a setback. The waste element of NYCC's draft MWDF has been so severely criticised by the examining inspector, the county council was obliged to re-start the whole process.

  29. As soon as the decision notice was issued by NYCC in November 2008, a local resident, with the full support of the Friends of Thornborough Henges, started legal proceedings requesting a Judicial Review of NYCC’s decision on the grounds that the approval given was unlawful. After a 3-day hearing in the High Court in August 2009, Mr Justice Hickinbottom decided in favour of NYCC, thereby endorsing opencast quarrying on the reduced Ladybridge Farm site. The detailed judgment can be found here while our coordinator’s afterthoughts are available here


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