By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottinghamshire wildlife could suffer serious damage if plans for a controversial quarry are approved, campaigners have warned.
MPs, councillors and wildlife groups are opposing plans to dig up fields in Barton-in-Fabis and turn them into a huge sand and gravel pit.
Campaigners from ‘SAVE’ (Save the Ancient Valley Environment) staged protests at the weekend saying the plans would “decimate” the area, across the river from the much-loved Attenborough Nature Reserve.
It comes after the revised County Council Minerals Local Plan was published in March, suggesting a gravel pit could open around Barton.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, opposing the plans, has said noise pollution from the site could lead to the wetland bird population at Attenborough Nature Reserve suffering a ‘double whammy’ due to the loss of the grazing habitat at Barton.
Ruth Edwards, Conservative MP for Rushcliffe, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she feels the application falls “far short of what is needed in terms of restoration and environmental mitigation measures”.
She said: “The impact on the nationally important Attenborough Nature Reserve and on local wildlife in terms of noise and dust is huge.
“I am particularly concerned about the irreparable impact on local wildlife and conservation sites within the application site and I question whether the calculations used to reach the net biodiversity gain are robust enough. I worry that the ultimate biodiversity gain will be far lower than their rather optimistic estimation.
“I am really worried it is going to undo all the brilliant work that has been done at Attenborough nature reserve, a worry shared by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
“Lots of time and money was spent restoring Attenborough and creating a wonderful habitat for rare birds who also use the site over the river, and we are now proposing to put a big gravel pit a few metres away from it.
“We do need to extract resources like gravel but we do have a duty to do it in a way that is least damaging to the environment.”
She added that residents can share their views on the gravel pit application with the county council before September 10.
Steffan La Touche, resident and member of campaign group S.A.V.E, said: “We have been fighting this since 2014. We thought we had fought it off and now it has come back again.
“The difference this time is we have much wider support from MPs and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.
“We are at the point where it will become irreversible if we don’t stop what’s going on from an environmental point of view.
“People wanted that rural lifestyle before it became fashionable, one of the reasons they moved here is for the green fields.
“But the greater concern is there will be 120 football pitches worth of land for gravel extraction.
“The big concern is Attenborough Nature Reserve took 70 years to recover to get to the state we love and enjoy.
“When you walk around the site it blows your mind how much space would be decimated.”
He added that the group have concerns about the restoration plans for the area, known as Mill Hill, after 20 years of quarrying are complete.
He said: “As much as they try to mitigate in the plan how there will be less of an impact to the environment, there is no extensive restoration plan.
“I think they need to have more detail as it has made their application hugely untrustworthy and inadequate.”
A spokesperson for Greenfield Enviro, quarry development consultants acting on behalf of applicant London Rock Supplies Ltd, said: “The planning application for the new quarry has undergone a substantial amount of scrutiny and consultation through both the application process itself and also the County Minerals Local Plan process over the past four years or so.
“While we recognise that some individuals and communities do not really like the idea of a quarry in their neighbourhood, the Mineral Plan and the pubic examination has tried to deal directly with some of the concerns and misconceptions about the proposed new quarry.
“It should also be noted that the Attenborough Nature Reserve was an operating quarry from the 1920’s for about 100 years, closing only about 3 years ago.
“The mineral extraction and the final restoration scheme for the proposed quarry has been modified and amended as part of the consultation process to ensure that the highest level of restoration can be achieved following mineral extraction.”
A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust said: “Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has been fighting to safeguard local wildlife from the impact of a proposed quarry at Mill Hill, Barton-in-Fabis for a number of years and this proposal is one of the most damaging sand and gravel applications we have dealt with.
“Our Nature Recovery Team is completing a detailed assessment of the revised planning application and whilst it is clear that our efforts alongside local residents and campaigners have resulted in significant changes, we still have real concerns over the potential impact on wildlife and on people’s ability to enjoy and connect with nature on a number of important sites, not least Attenborough Nature Reserve.”