Parish council joins fight against gravel extraction

A parish council has joined the fight against the extraction of 900,000 tonnes of sand and gravel in the village.

Wight Building Materials (WBM) is hoping to use one of the Island’s last significant resources of sand and gravel at Palmer’s Farm, in Wootton, to supply building materials for a period of ten years.

More than 100 concerned residents, on Tuesday night (May 3), attended Wootton Bridge Parish Council’s meeting, where councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Daryll Pitcher, Isle of Wight Councillor for Wootton Bridge, said it was a completely unacceptable application with no safe access route, a too-high impact on the environment and going against the Island’s UNESCO Biosphere status.

During the meeting, Cllr Pitcher raised findings from the archaeological report which found there was a high or medium chance of finding building structures and remains from 5,500 years ago at the site.

He said: “This application would destroy our community, land, history and environment.”

If the application had to be approved, Cllr Pitcher proposed a number of restrictive conditions, including cleaning the roads, a limit on vehicle movements, time restrictions and ensuring monies were set aside at the beginning of the project to ensure it was restored at the end of the ten-years.

The impact on King’s Quay was highlighted by many, with potential water run-off bringing nitrates to the sensitive, protected area. Questions were also asked by members of the public about the link between Island Roads and Wight Building Materials which share a parent company, Eurovia.

Concerns were raised about the route to be used, which has been changed by WBM following previous discussions with residents. It is planned that 32-tonne lorries use Brocks Copse Road, then Alverstone Road to the Racecourse roundabout before coming back into Wootton and turning right at The Cedars pub, instead of using Palmers Road straight onto Lushington Hill. The aggregate would then be taken to St George’s Down via Downend.

With up to 50 lorry movements a day, residents said Brocks Copse Road was not suitable for both lorries and pedestrians, cyclists or horse riders, although a footpath has been proposed.

Cllr Barrie Hailestone raised concerns that the bridge on Brocks Copse Road could collapse with ten years of heavy traffic going over it.

Comments on the application, 22/00654/FUL, can be submitted until May 16.