Bantycock Quarry in operation
Bantycock Quarry in operation

Concerns raised by villagers at a public consultation about a quarry extension include potential damage to homes, dust levels, and its affect on re-sale values and insurance premiums.

Formula St Gobain has planning permission to extend Bantycock open-cast mine towards Fernwood and would mine up to 300 metres from the nearest homes and businesses.

The company is consulting on how it will quarry the extension ahead of submitting a detailed planning application to Nottinghamshire County Council.

The consultation event at Fernwood Village Hall was well attended.

Many people the Advertiser spoke to said they were not aware the planning consent existed when they bought their homes.

There were fears over structural and cosmetic damage to homes and businesses, devaluation of houses, increased insurance premiums, noise from the blasting, dust and increased traffic.

Formula said its work would be strictly regulated.

The results of blasting are monitored by the county council, which visits the site four times a year. Bantycock covers 225 hectares and the deepest excavations are 43 metres below ground level.

Due to the geology of the area the gypsum is close to the surface and the seams too thin to mine underground.

Unlike deep quarrying, the blasting is on a smaller scale so as to not shatter the rock. Operations can continue until 2027, after which, the site must be restored by 2029.

Around 300,000 tonnes of gypsum were quarried from Bantycock in 2017.

Mr Jeremy Elvins, minerals and estates manager, said: “I would like to emphasise that we are keen to encourage people if they have any concerns about the operation of the quarry or factory to contact the company.

“The company is open and transparent about its operations and future proposals.

“The purpose of the exhibition was to ensure residents understand what we are proposing and for them to get a better understanding of the issues that concern them.

“We would like to encourage people to contact us using the email address if they have any issues.”

'They will be getting closer and closer'

John and Diane Hopkinson, of Manners Road, Balderton, were among those who attended the consultation.

They raised concerns over cosmetic or structural damage to their property, quarry dust, house prices and insurance premium rises.

Mr Hopkinson said: “I am really concerned by this. The blasting has in the past been like a shockwave through the ground and they will be getting closer and closer.”

Mrs Hopkinson said: “We have had fine cracking and have had to have the plaster re-skimmed in every room.

“There has been white dust that has been so bad, we couldn’t put the washing out.

“How is it going to affect insurance premiums and house prices?”

Formula said: “There are many reason why there might be fine cracking in houses, such as expansion/shrinkage associated with daily and seasonal temperature changes.

“The blasting is restricted and vibration levels are well below the level that would cause any structural damage.

“We have committed to undertake vibration monitoring at the properties of those concerned.

“Much of the consultation event has been aimed at explaining and demonstrating the vibration levels from the blasting.

“People were reassured when we demonstrated the monitoring equipment and showed the response of the monitor when stamping on the floor near the monitor. We are heavily regulated to ensure we don’t cause structural damage to properties.

“We would investigate all complaints about dust. We have had very few relating to dust from the quarry.

“On the rare occasions that there is a problem with emissions from the processing equipment in the factory or the quarry, we work hard to eliminate the source.

“We are currently investing £1.5m in refurbishing part of the process at the factory. This will significantly improve emissions from the plant.

“We undertake monthly dust monitoring at the boundary of the quarry and have not identified any issues. These results are submitted to the council who monitor our operations.

“We are required to undertake boundary monitoring of dust around the quarry (monthly) and respond proactively to complaints.”

On house prices and insurance premiums, it said: “We are not aware of any instances where house prices or insurance premiums have been affected, and believe that once the restoration of the quarry has been completed this will be very positive for the local community with footpaths around the lakes that will be created.”

'A problem with dust'

Michelle Marvin, of Balderton, raised the issue of traffic on Staple Lane.

“The entrance at the top (where it joins London Road) is not wide enough,” she said.

“I don’t know how we don’t have more accidents.

“The number of lorries coming through is only going to get worse. We also have a problem with dust.”

In response Formula said: “The proposals will not result in an increase in the number of vehicle movements from the site.

“The majority of the traffic leaving the site does not use Staple Lane. We comply with the requirements of the planning consent.”

'Bits went flying off my house'

Mr Antony Barson, of Ainsdale Close, Fernwood, claims the blasting has damaged tiling on his house.

“For months, I have felt my house shaking on weekdays at 1.30pm on the dot, up to five times,” he said.

“After one of the blasts a few bits went flying off my house and something similar happened with one of my neighbours.

 “At first I thought someone had thrown something at my house, but when I got outside a bit of tile and mortar had fallen off.

“Their plans are far too close. If Fernwood wasn’t here it wouldn’t be so bad but I don’t think they have thought this through properly.

“In the past year they have moved around their blasting position, and it is already bad enough.

“It is certainly something that will be concerning for people in the village.”

Formula will install a seismograph on a hard surface next to his house to record the level of vibration. It says monitoring measurements taken 300 metres from the blast sites had not exceeded permitted levels, while Ainsdale Close was 1,100 metres from the nearest blasting operations.

In a letter to Mr Barson, Formula said “Structural damage to property requires blast vibration at the property to be in excess of 50mm/s PPV (Peak Particle Velocity) which is impossible to be generated from Bantycock Quarry given the specification of our blasting and the distances involved.

“We regret you feel that Bantycock Quarry has caused damage to your property, and I hope the information provided reassures you that blasting on site is heavily regulated and monitored to ensure compliance and minimal impact on our neighbours.”

Formula told the Advertiser: “We are in dialogue with Mr Barson and will be undertaking monitoring at his property.

“The proposals have been subject to a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment completed by specialists.

“This will be submitted to Nottinghamshire County Council who are the mineral planning authority.

“They will consider all the information and any representations made by local residents in coming to their decision.”