Senior Minerals and Waste Policy Officer
North Yorkshire County Council Environmental Services
Minerals and Waste Planning
Planning and Countryside Unit
North Yorkshire DL7 8AH
3 February 2006
Dear Mr Jarvis
PLANNING APPLICATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT FOR THE PROPOSED EXTENSION OF SAND AND GRAVEL WORKINGS AND VARIATION OF CONDITION 2 OF PLANNING PERMISSION C2/92/500/53, LADYBRIDGE FARM, MOOR LANE, THORNBOROUGH
Thank you for your letter of 6 January 2006 enclosing additional supplementary information with a report on the results of further archaeological investigation on the site of the Ladybridge Farm application. We wish to make the following comments in addition to those made in our earlier responses to the application.
The further investigation has defined more clearly the area of archaeological potential and the character of early prehistoric activity that is present in the areas proposed for gravel extraction. The topographical modelling of the early landscape together with the evaluation results provide a footprint for the focus of later Neolithic activity to the east of the henges, situated on the edge of a ‘north south aligned promontory of gravel which reaches out into the expanse of peat on either side’. While the recent work confirms that the archaeological preservation of the prehistoric features has been eroded by agricultural activity, we see no reason to change our view of the national significance of the site in the context of the henges and their landscape. By significance, we mean the combination of all the values attributable to the site. These include those of archaeological importance which might be narrowly assigned to particular features, such as a Neolithic pit, using an MPP-style scoring methodology; but also wider values. These include the spatial and temporal associations in the landscape of the henge monuments (a complex interplay between zones of water and wetland and of drier gravel rises, as convincingly presented in the report), and the value of the site’s potential for future interpretation of the chronology, development and function of the monuments and the communities that used them.
The report’s conclusion states that ‘if planning permission is refused current and future agricultural practice will ultimately destroy the features’ and that the object of preservation will not be achieved. The CBA does not accept that the damage being caused by the present agricultural regime provides a legitimate argument to support the case for permitting gravel extraction. There remains an urgent need to negotiate a positive change in agricultural land management to protect and enhance the setting and archaeological context of one of Britain’s rare and important prehistoric and later ritual landscapes, as recognised in the draft Thornborough Henges Conservation Plan.
The CBA’s view therefore remains that that the application should be refused because further investigation shows that the proposed quarry extension site includes nationally significant prehistoric remains which would merit preservation in situ, in accordance with national planning policy guidance (PPG 16) and the authority’s Minerals Plan Policy 4/8.
Dr Mike Heyworth