‘CRUEL’ plans for miners to keep digging at East Burnham Quarry have been delayed because planning bosses said not enough had been done to protect residents.

Summerleaze, a gravel and sand supplier, had asked Buckinghamshire Council for permission to keep mining at East Burnham Quarry, which is by Burnham Beeches, until December 2024.

But councillors on the authority’s strategic sites committee ignored officers’ pleas to approve the plan because they were not happy with the measures in place to reduce noise disturbance to neighbours.

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This led councillor George Sandy to call for the application to be reconsidered so officers could “strengthen” planning conditions which would see greater protection from noise through improvements to the haul road and enhancements to a sound-proof wall.

He said: “I think if all these conditions were firmly cemented into the application I have a feeling we might get to a place where the residents who are very upset about this are happy.”

The deferral followed a two-hour debate between councillors and officers in which the latter insisted the plans were fine to go-ahead without the need to tarmac the haul road leading to the quarry.

Bucks Free Press:

But the discussion got underway after a Mrs Bennett, who lives at one of the few properties close to the site, claimed the noise from the quarry’s wheel spinner and from lorries driving to and from the pit was “horrendous and upsetting”.

After calling for ‘adequate conditions’ to limit noise from the site, she added: “The peaceful enjoyment of our home is a basic human right.

“Four more years without remedy is simply cruel.”

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Mrs Bennett also told the committee she was “stunned” and “shattered” by a response from planning officer James Suter when she asked why part of the haul road to the site could not be tarmacked, and why noise tests and reviews could not be undertaken.

According to Mrs Bennett, the officer’s reply was: “Because Summerleaze would object and that would reflect badly upon him (sic) and the department.”

Bucks Free Press:

Mr Suter said he did not include the condition to tarmac the road because he believed the application would then be subject to an appeal from Summerleaze.

A Bucks Council planning manager backed up Mr Suter, claiming the response had been “taken out of context.”

Suzanne Winkels added: “If we did go to appeal we most likely would have lost it.

“I do think there’s some confusion between maybe a layperson and an understanding of the planning process.”

Councillors also got their chance to voice their concerns with the plan.

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Committee member Santokh Chhokar said: “This extension of another four years is a new development as far as I can see.

“Simply because the quarry is already there, doesn’t mean they should be entitled to a four-year extension.”

Cllr Chhokar claimed the work required to take place by Summerleaze could be completed in 13 weeks rather than four years.

But officer James Suter said the plan was not just for the extraction of minerals, but also for the infilling and restoration of the site.

Despite officers’ recommendation to approve the plan, councillors voted to defer a decision at a meeting on Thursday, June 11.