CHESHIRE East councillors will get new information on Sibelco’s proposed sand quarry next year – but they will not be able to reject the plans.
The Belgian firm wants to extract 3.3 million tonnes of silica sand over a 12-year period from Rudheath Lodge Farm, which straddles the border of Cheshire Eastand Cheshire West in Cranage and Allostock.
CEC’s strategic planning board approved its part of the site by six votes to five at a meeting in April – but the council has now reopened consultation on the scheme after an environmental report suggested the site is unsuitable.
The same committee will be given another report in the new year based on the consultation’s findings, but members will not be able to overturn their original decision.
Gareth Woods, of the Residents Against Quarrying campaign group, said: “If the board members cannot change their mind then what is the point of having the report presented to them?
“It just seems to be a very strange situation, while at the same time CWAC is still waiting to set a date for its hearing – it is all really quite weird.
“I have questioned all along why CEC had the hearing in April when not all the information was available. Members now know it was premature and they are in an uncomfortable position.”
Sibelco’s controversial scheme has attracted fierce opposition from residents, and the two councils have received more than 1,000 objections in total.
Cheshire West and Chester Council had hoped to make a decision on the plans in June and then again last month, but this is now expected in the new year.
The application was challenged over groundwater issues in an independent report commissioned by neighbouring Garnett Farms, in Allostock.
Both CWAC and CEC are now accepting comments based on the new information – but while CWAC members will be able to use it when making a decision on the scheme, CEC’sdecision from April will remain.
A spokesman at CEC said: “The council can confirm that it is consulting with he Environment Agency and Cheshire Wildlife Trust regarding matters referred to in an independent hydrogeologist report, relating to the planning application for the creation of a new sand quarry at Cranage.
“As new information has been provided to the council by the applicant, the consultation, together with press notices, is necessary for the council to meet the requirements of the environmental impact assessment legislation. This is a formal process and focuses on technical information concerning ground water levels.
“A report on the outcome of the consultation will be presented to the council’s strategic planning board early in the new year. Similarly, Cheshire West and Chester Council is following the same procedure for its part of the application site.”