Controversial plans to turn hundreds of acres of land close to three West Norfolk villages into a mineral extraction site have been dropped.
The U-turn has been hailed as a victory for people power by campaigners in Snettisham, Dersingham and Ingoldisthorpe who formed a campaign group to fight the plans.
Snettisham parish councillor Stuart Dark welcomed the decision, saying: “I’m very, very pleased with the outcome.
“The key thing for us was Norfolk County Council, particularly Martin Wilby who had the strength
“We went and saw him with all of our concerns and they had the integrity to go back and review a decision which was made some time ago.
“It was shaping up for a public enquiry in September, but this has saved everyone both a lot of time and money.
“I’d like to thank both Henry Bellingham and Jo Rust for backing us and everyone else who supported the campaign and got actively involved.”
It emerged in May that land between the three villages had been included in Norfolk County Council mineral extraction proposals for the production of silica sand, which is widely used to make products such as glass.
The revelation sparked fury among local residents who launched the Wash Against Silica Pit (WASP) action group to co-ordinate their fight to stop the scheme.
However, on Friday, the county council announced the removal of the site was one of four major changes it intends to make to its mineral extraction plans.
A spokesman said: “Due to the proximity of the area to the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is considered to be the least preferable of the six areas of search for silica sand extraction.”
She added that both West Norfolk Council and the Norfolk Coast Partnership had objected to the idea.
North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, who supported the fight against the proposal, said: “This really is fantastic news for local residents of Snettisham and the surrounding villages.
“Everyone agrees that we do need Silica Sand quarries in Norfolk, but it is imperative that only those sites that meet certain key criteria are given the go ahead.
“This site was always going to be completely unsuitable and deeply unpopular owing to its proximity to village houses and also given the key importance of tourism to this part of Norfolk.
“This really is a great victory for local residents and I would like to pay tribute to all of those involved in the campaign.”