Tarmac are 'drinking at the last chance saloon' after being given permission to use quarry for another 13 years

Road builders Tarmac have been given permission to continue quarrying in the heart of a national park for another 13 years in the face of warnings the industrial operation will permanently scar the unique landscapes.

A clear majority of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority members voted in favour of allowing the £2bn turnover firm to extract 4.4 million tonnes of gritstone from Dry Rigg Quarry, near Horton-in-Ribblesdale, before restoring the area in 2035 with a 225-metre deep lake that would take about 30 years to fill.

The planning committee, which met at Grassington Town Hall to enable social distancing, heard rejecting the scheme would cause serious "disruption" to the families of 17 on-site staff and 19 hauliers as jobs were hard to find in the area.

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A Tarmac spokesman told members there were few quarries in the country from which high polished stone value aggregates could be extracted.

Dry Rigg Quarry in the Yorkshire Dales
Dry Rigg Quarry in the Yorkshire Dales

He said: "Dry Rigg is a nationally significant resource. It's important to road users. This stone has a very high skid resistance which is essential for safety on certain sections of roads."

The meeting heard the operation would see the creation of a 225-metre deep lake that would take about 30 years to fill once operations were finished.

However, objecting, resident Kate Smith told the meeting Tarmac's scheme was based "not on national need, but rather on commercial profit".

She said the delayed restoration scheme and continuing operations were in direct conflict with the national park's first purpose and would leave a permanent visual impact on the area.

North Yorkshire County councillor David Ireton said there were great concerns in the area about how the quarry had been operated. He said roads in the area were in a disgraceful state due to dust and dirt from the scores of lorries leaving the site every day.

Nevertheless, other members said to maintain communities and employment in the park it was necessary to accept some industrial developments from time to time.

Veteran member Robert Heseltine said continuing the operation would bring substantial benefit to the local economy, but the extension should be the final one approved at the quarry.

He said: "The applicants are drinking at the last chance saloon."