Shropshire Council’s south planning committee have temporarily ‘part approved and part refused’ an application at the former Lea Quarrry on Wenlock Edge. The retrospective planning application was made by Edge Renewables, who process wood to produce bio-fuel, to change the use of the former quarry land and buildings to a mixed use of temporary timber storage, timber processing plus the erection of two storage buildings. Permission has been granted, provided the buildings in the plant yard are re-cladded and landscaping work is carried out. Edge Renewables has agreed to spend £25,000 a year to restore other parts of the site.
The application had met considerable opposition by a number of residents and local conservation groups, with over 4,500 signatures on a petition and 216 letters of objection. The National Trust, Shropshire Hills AONB Partnership, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shropshire Ramblers and the Shropshire Geological Society argue that it is an inappropriate use of the land and claim that the wood processing is ‘already harming the sensitive landscape and will fail to ‘heal the scar in the landscape’ that quarrying has created’.
Ben Shipston, of the National Trust, said: “The planning framework states that once quarrying ceases, the land should be returned back to nature. It has been four years since extraction last took place and there’s already an abundance of spectacular flora and fauna including beautiful orchids and European protected species such as Great Crested Newts.” The National Trust had hoped to add to the 700 acres of land along the Edge which it already manages for conservation and public enjoyment. Planning officers will reconvene on 31st August 2013.