Death quarry plan comes under scrutiny

SP73856 Fall Hill Quarry Ashover
SP73856 Fall Hill Quarry Ashover

COUNCIL officers have recommended to planning chiefs that plans to fill in part of a quarry to stop flooding where a teenage boy drowned should be turned down.

Derbyshire County Council’s planning committee is due to decide upon a JC Balls’ planning application today, August 29, to fill in part of Fall Hill Quarry, on Hockley Lane, at Fallgate, Ashover.

The water-filled quarry claimed the life of 15 year-old Ryan Walker, of Clay Cross, in May 2009, but JC Balls’ plans to fill it in also sparked the Fall Hill Landfill Action Group campaign among residents who raised fears about an influx of waste-packed lorries, safety dangers on country roads, dust and noise.

A council planning report stated: “The partial infilling would be significantly greater than that considered necessary to eliminate flooding risk.”

The report added that it felt the plan also constituted an intrusive development in the countryside, and with noise and dust any benefits would be outweighed by concerns for environmental harm.

FLAG chairman Keith Horner said: “FLAG opposes the application on the grounds that it is a disproportionate response to the danger posed by the quarry.

“Rather than reducing the risk to local people, it will significantly increase it because of the sharply increased number of 32 tonne lorries on totally unsuitable country roads.”

The proposed infill would run for 74 weeks with an average of 36 traffic movements a day with heavy goods vehicles carrying 19.5tonnes each.

Ashover Parish Council has also raised concerns about an unstable wall along Hockley Lane, narrow carriageways, a lack of footpaths and feared detrimental effects on local businesses. The county council has also received 154 other public objections including worries about potential damage to roads.

Ryan Walker had been swimming with friends at Fall Hill Quarry - which some residents dubbed the Blue Lagoon - when he drowned.

His family, including mum Tracey and her partner Jason, have campaigned for the infill since Ryan’s death.

Mr Horner said it recognised Ms Walker’s loss but argued that increased traffic through the village would be a direct threat to the health and safety of others including the young and the elderly.

But Chris Balls, of JC Balls and Sons, has argued his company would not cause any harm, that lorries would not be moving through the area in one big mass and drivers would be instructed on which roads to take and not to take while travelling around the village.