Residents fight against Leicestershire quarry's expansion plans

People living by one of the largest quarries in Europe are starting a fight to stop it from getting even bigger.

Granite has been taken from the ground at the Mountsorrel Quarry in Leicestershire for more than 150 years, but now the firm which runs it says new stone is running low.

Diagrammatic map showing the quarry's expansion plans Credit: ITV News Central

Lafarge Tarmac says the site produces and distributes around four million tonnes of crushed granite each year, which is used in construction projects throughout the East Midlands, as well as nationally thanks to its rail freight link at nearby Barrow-upon-Soar.

However the firm say if it does not increase the size of the Mountsorrel quarry, reserves will run out in four years.

The planning application for the new area they say could secure the quarry until 2040.

But it means moving conveyor belts and crushers, the current location appearing as a black line in the map above, the new locations the red line closer to homes in Quorn.

Work on site at the Mountsorrel Quarry Credit: ITV News Central

The Quorn Against Quarry group has recently been set up to fight against Lafarge's planning application which was issued to Leicestershire County Council in January.

Joan Davies lives on Leicester Road very near the quarry, and says she feels Lafarge hasn't been upfront about its plans to expand.

I'm worried about more noise, more vibrations, more dust. in the last year there's been an increasing amount of dust and an increasing amount of noise. One can never understand what the quarry are doing. They don't seem to be able to connect with the residents or even want to know what the residents are suffering or feel they can do to make life easier for us"

– Joan Davies, Quorn Against Quarries

She says she's had to pester Leicestershire County Council & Lafarge for information about the scheme, and she's now setting up the group to let other people in the villages of Quorn & Mountsorrel know more about the plans.

Along with two other Quorn residents, Jane Cartwright-Sykes & Robert Nash, the group has set up a Facebook page to try to rally support for their campaign.

Quorn Against Quarry Facebook Page

Mr Nash says he doesn't feel enough information has been provided by Lafarge or the county council.

It has been left to the community to find out what's going on. The County Council has said there was no benefit in holding a public meeting, well who's benefit theirs or ours?"

– Robert Nash, Resident

In response, a spokesman for Leicestershire County Council said:

“Before taking a decision on the application by Lafarge, we’re continuing to consult with the local community to get their views and would encourage people to get in touch as soon as possible.

“We know that residents are keen to find out about the proposal so we’ve sent out over 500 letters and published notices at the parish council offices and in the press. Lafarge have also carried out a leaflet drop outlining their plans.”

– Leicestershire County Council
The quarry in Mountsorrel has been used to extract granite since the 1850s. Credit: ITV News Central

Lafarge also issued a statement, saying:

"The granite at Mountsorrel Quarry is a nationally important resource, and there is a clear need for this development so we can continue to supply materials to meet long term demand from local and national construction projects. The proposals would bring significant environmental benefits as well as safeguarding 140 local jobs. We'll continue to make sure that local residents are kept updated on our plans for the quarry."

– Tim Deal, Estates Manager for Lafarge Tarmac

The firm went on to say the proposals for the development at Mountsorrel have been 'consistently and widely' communicated, and from May 2012, 5000 people have attended open days to the site, with follow up exhibitions in both villages in 2012 and 2013.

It also said the Mountsorrel Quarry liaison committee has been 'fully informed throughout'.

Despite this residents say they're going to keep up their campaign against the planning application.

They'll have until later this year, when the final decision will be made.

Watch: Chris Halpin's full report on the quarry expansion row here