Dozens vow to fight sand extraction idea at Snettisham meeting

The land where silica sand could be extracted from
The land where silica sand could be extracted from
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An action group has drawn up its plans to fight the possibility of sand extraction on land between Snettisham and Dersingham.

Residents want the site to be dropped from a list of six earmarked by Norfolk County Council as having potential to be dug up for large scale industrial mineral extraction.

And the group, set up at Snettisham’s Memorial Hall last night, has called itself WASP (Wash Against Silica Pit) to personify being “annoying and persistent.”

The county council’s Silica Sand Review aims to address the predicted shortfall in the quantity of silica sand extraction sites allocated in its Minerals Plan.

Land to the west of Snettisham and Ingoldisthorpe has been identified as a possible solution.

But that provoked outcry at Snettisham’s annual parish meeting two weeks ago when concerns were raised about the effect such a proposal would have on the area because of issues relating to traffic, noise and dust.

It had only come to light two days earlier that the site was still under consideration. There is a six week period up to June 27 for representations to be made on the “soundness and legal compliance” of the review.

Villagers from Snettisham, Dersingham and Ingoldisthorpe were among those who pledged their support to oppose the proposal at the meeting, which was attended by around 60 people.

Volunteers stepped forward to set up a petition against the proposal and to help publicise the issue in all kinds of ways from Facebook campaigns to leaflet distribution.

The meeting heard it would be useful to hear the views of the landowners who could be affected and also look at the wider community.

Several avenues were suggested, including contacting Sandringham Estate whose land at Wolferton borders the area in question.

One resident spoke about Dersingham Bog, an SSSI site, where a lot of time and money had been spent taking down trees and how this could be affected if land was drained just a couple of miles away for the purposes of mineral extraction.

Suggestions were also made to contact nearby councils to engage their support, not just the immediately neighbouring parishes such as Dersingham and Heacham but also Sedgeford and Hunstanton.

Other speakers called for the involvement of local businesses plus community and environmental groups.

The effect of extra heavy lorry traffic on the busy A149 was also raised as a concern especially if a new road, roundabout or traffic lights needed to be introduced to allow lorries access to and from the site.

And many were worried about dust pollution, saying the prevailing wind in the area was from the west, and how it might affect all the surrounding villages, including caravan sites located in Snettisham and at Dersingham.

Snettisham parish councillor Stuart Dark said that he had been in contact with the county council’s principal planning officer for minerals and waste and was hoping to discuss the proposal with her in the near future.

He said he had also been in contact with MP Sir Henry Bellingham and was hoping to arrange a meeting with Sibelco, one of the area’s primary mineral extraction companies.

The group will be holding meetings on a weekly basis.