Huge quarry to be created on farmland in North York Moors National Park on outskirts of Scarborough as plans approved

A proposal to quarry sand and gravel from an area equal to 30 football pitches near the North York Moors National Park has been unanimously approved.

The new quarry site, highlighted in red, with Seamer to the North, Staxton to the South and the B1261 and A64 on the right of the picture. (Photo: Google Maps)
The new quarry site, highlighted in red, with Seamer to the North, Staxton to the South and the B1261 and A64 on the right of the picture. (Photo: Google Maps)

North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee heard the scheme by W Clifford Watts Limited, which produces concrete and other materials for construction, aimed to extract and process up to 90,000 tonnes of sand and gravel annually from Raincliffe Grange Farm, off Main Street, Seamer.

A spokesman for the firm told the meeting it had not been able to find the right quality sand and gravel elsewhere in the eastern part of North Yorkshire, leading to it importing materials from 60 miles away at Nosterfield, near Masham.

However, several councillors questioned why the site had not been included in the area’s adopted minerals and waste plan, a document which guides where quarries can be sited.

Several councillors raised concerns that the scheme was a significant departure from the document that the county council spent years developing with City of York Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority before it was adopted in February.

One elected member likened the proposal to “driving a coach and horses” through the plan.

However, planning officers told the meeting it was considered preferable to create local sources of sand and gravel rather than transport them over long distances.

They added national planning policy affords great weight for mineral development to ensure the steady and adequate supply to market and to support the national economy.

Green Party councillor Andy Brown replied that “you could make local miles argument over almost any development”.

Planning officers added the agricultural landscape on the proposed quarry site, much of which has been graded as being the best and most versatile land, was capable of being restored following the conclusion of nine years of quarry operations.

The meeting heard while the proposed quarry lies 1.9 miles outside the national park and in the setting of the Yorkshire Wolds Escarpment, which is a candidate to become a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its impact could be mitigated.

Planning officers stated the proposal complied with a policy that steers such development away from national parks and AONBs.

They said while the site was near to the Starr Carr Mesolithic archaeological site, extensive investigations including geophysics and trial boreholes had demonstrated the development would not harm important archaeological resources.

The meeting heard detailed studies had demonstrated the proposed quarry site was not likely to be of any national archaeological significance.

Scarborough councillor Eric Broadbent said the application “ticks all the boxes”, as it met a local need for aggregate, the quarry would not visible from A64, and the proposed restoration would make it fit in with the lakes in the surrounding area.