West Bilney woods visit for MP in silica sand campaign

Sir Henry Bellingham at West Bilney Woods.
Sir Henry Bellingham at West Bilney Woods.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham paid a trip to West Bilney to declare himself “totally opposed” to silica extraction in woodland.

Residents in West Bilney and East Winch learnt the woods was one of several sites ear-marked by Norfolk County Council as a potential site for silica sand extraction and since then, CASE (Campaign Against Silica Extraction) has been campaigning hard.

Sir Henry joined members of CASE for a briefing and a walk through the threatened woodland.

He said: “It was pleasure to join a number of West Bilney residents on a walk through West Bilney wood. It is a truly beautiful wood, and one that is enjoyed by many walkers, riders and cyclists.

“I received a full briefing on the possible threat to the wood and surrounding area as a result of the proposal by Norfolk County Council to include this area as one of their possible silica sand sites.

“Although this is only one of a number of sites that have been identified for further examination, I am personally totally opposed to valuable Forestry woodland being quarried – especially at a time when both the Government and the commission have stated that the county needs more forestry and woodland.

“Another reason why this particular site is so unsuitable is that it would put intolerable extra pressure on both Common Lane and surrounding roads including the the A47. For all these reasons I will be pressing the county to now withdraw this site from further consideration.”

Matthew Owsley-Brown, a local resident, said: “We are delighted that Sir Henry took the time to visit us and hear our arguments.

“Our hope is that the county will remove West Bilney from the list of potential sites so that this threat to our community and woodland is permanently removed, at the minute it hangs like a dark cloud over all of us who live here.”