Proposals to expand a West Norfolk quarry, in a bid to extract an estimated three million tonnes of industrial sand, have been submitted.
Minerals firm Sibelco announced its bid to extend its operations at the Grandcourt site, near East Winch, this week, almost 15 months after the idea was first outlined.
If permission is granted, work on the 22 hectare expansion could begin later this year, with final extraction in late 2020. Work in the existing facility is expected to continue until 2023.
The firm says the plans will meet high demand among glass manufacturers for industrial sand, of which the quarry is the country’s main source.
They say the site contributes around £15 million a year to the local economy and supports around 125 jobs.
They have also stressed the scheme is not connected to plans to extract silica sand from land in the West Bilney Woods, which have attracted fierce local opposition.
And local people will have the chance to comment on the plans once they are validated by Norfolk County Council.
Sustainability manager Mike Hurley said: “After extensive local consultations and detailed studies, I believe our plans are well thought through and deliver a means of supplying a nationally important product in a way that considers residents’ needs.
“We have been a good neighbour for very many years and see no reason why that should change.”
Officials say most sand from the site will still be taken away via a rail link from Leziate.
The company also plans to carry out what it describes as “progressive restoration” around the site, with more hedges and woodland being planted, plus new rights of way, grasslands and lake borders.