Quarry lagoons' heritage impact judged acceptable

A less than substantial impact on a listed castle in Dorset is insufficient to justify refusing permission for additional silt lagoons at a Dorset gravel quarry, an inspector has ruled.

The grade I listed fortified medieval manor house had been converted into holiday accommodation and lay close to an abandoned medieval village and a river from which water would have been drawn. Historic England pointed to the building’s imposing form and dramatic visual impact over the surrounding rural landscape. The inspector agreed that the landscape within which the lagoons would be sited formed an important part of its historic setting.

However, he noted that the quarry itself had given rise to a significant impact, finding little information about the consideration given to this matter when permission for gravel extraction was given. The quarry undoubtedly had an industrial character and had a major harmful impact on the castle’s setting, he opined. While the proposed bunds and lagoons would compound this impact, he found that this would be towards the lower end of less than substantial compared to what had already been permitted.

Against this harm, he weighed the need to maximise production of gravel at the site, which formed the county’s main source. The supply of such minerals should not be looked at simply in terms of whether the council had an adequate landbank, he reasoned. Minerals had to be worked and extracted in order to maintain supply and output from the quarry had been restrained by the inadequacy of its existing silt lagoons, he observed.

In the inspector’s view, the council had not demonstrated how other resources identified in the landbank could be brought forward if the quarry’s capacity was not improved. No better alternative to the appeal site within the appellants’ control was available, he found. The very sustainable outcome of increasing supply from the existing site justified allowing the appeal, he concluded.

Inspector: Graham Dudley; Inquiry

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