Proposals by Sibelco to extract 3.3 million tons of industrial sand from a site near Goostrey have again been recommended for approval, more than six months after the plans were first withdrawn from committee.
The 180-acre site is across two parcels of land either side of New Platt Lane, with Cheshire West & Chester considering the application for an 81-acre portion of the wider area. The remainder of the site falls within the boundaries of Cheshire East, which signalled its intention to allow the project to go ahead last year.
The sand is proposed to be extracted by dredging to a depth of 4.5m on the site and would involve sand and other material being extracted via a small boat and then pumped through a pipeline to a processing plant north of New Platt Lane.
The extraction would take place over 12 phases, with each phase operating for approximately one year. The 16.4m high processing plant would use site pumped water to wash the sand and remove small amounts of clay and silt.
Much of the sand that is extracted will replace demand from Sibelco’s Dingle Bank Quarry on Holmes Chapel Road, Macclesfield, which is due to be decomissioned by the end of next year.
The site is expected to handle around 130 truck journeys each day, and Sibelco is proposing to improve New Platt Lane from the junction with the A50 to its new plant site entrance.
These truck journeys and the impact on local wildlife and landscape form a prominent part of the objections to the scheme from nearby residents. The project has attracted more than 1,000 representations with more than 800 of these arguing against planning consent.
Increased congestion, road safety on the A50 and New Platt Lane junction, increased HGV traffic, and a risk to cyclists are all highlighted, while the impact from airborne sand and dust as well as the loss of trees all feature prominently.
There have also been 180 supportive representations from the public, which argue for the potential employment benefits the scheme would bring, the positive impact on the local and regional economy, and the biodiversity benefits of the site once it is restored.
Cheshire West planning officers have fallen on the side of these representations, recommending the scheme for approval. Sibelco’s application had previously been due to go before the planning committee in June last year with a recommendation to approve, but these were withdrawn.
Summing up the arguments in favour of the development, planning officers said there would not be “a severe impact in the operation or safety of the highway network” if the proposals went ahead and added the eventual restoration of the site following extraction would “reinstate and enhance the natural environment”.
Cheshire West & Chester’s planning committee meets on 8 January.