Anti-silica sand extraction group WASP has launched a stinging attack on Norfolk County Council’s approach to choosing land between Snettisham and Dersingham as one of its preferred sites within its Minerals Plan.
The council’s choice of offering 1,400 hectares of countryside to be explored for open silica pit mining against a national requirement to find just 20 hectares has been called into question along with a limited time frame of just four weeks for objections to be made, lack of communication with landowners and failures to address the impact on surrounding areas.
At least 200 hundred people attended a public meeting called by Dersingham Parish Council at St Cecilia’s Church Hall on Wednesday with many expressing concerns about the effect the potential site could have on health, the environment and roads.
Stuart Dark, a Snettisham parish councillor and one of the founders of WASP – Wash Against Silica Pit – said he had been to Norwich to discuss the county’s Silica Sand Review which has identified land west of Snettisham and Dersingham as a preferred site for large scale sand extraction.
He said: “They did not consider the seasonal population change, have not taken into account the effect on tourisim, nor have they considered the prevailing winds. I would think that if sand is airborne it is going to hit us quickly.
“They are working on the assumption that the A149 is a main road and they can put whatever they like on it, but we know how dangerous that would be. It would mean 200 lorries a day using the road.”
He also said that in choosing the site the county council had applied the minimum distances required by law from nature reserves, commons, historic woodland and national monuments and, in some cases, the distance was as low as 250 metres.
WASP has the full support of North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham. Mr Dark said: “Sir Henry has gone on record saying that he feels it is not a plan and is 100 per cent against it and will be writing to Norfolk County Council saying they should reconsider. He is also saying that we should have longer to object than just the four weeks we were given.”
Sandringham Estate has been approached by WASP. “Because this is a public exercise there is a precedent they would not publicly want to be on record. However, they are aware, concerned and monitoring it,” said Mr Dark.
Residents spoke of their concerns about silica being carcinogenic, the impact on wildlife and the sand potentially being used for fracking. One said: “We don’t know what the extent of fracking will be or what impact that would have on demand and therefore what the implication would be.”
Dersingham Parish Council chairman Sue Payne said the parish council would be fighting the proposal and urged those who opposed it to sign the petition and send letters. A draft letter is available to download on www.dersingham.org.uk Deadline for objections is 5pm June 27.