Dean Quarry


Village revolts against Super Quarry

Residents from the peaceful village of St. Keverne, on the Lizard, are 'up in arms' over the prospect of plans to blast rock from the re-opening an old quarry that will create a crater, gouged out through farmland from the coast to the outskirts of the village, so huge it will alter the landscape beyond recognition.

A protest, being spearhead by an action group, Community Against Dean Quarry, is campaigning against a business 'enterprise' using railroading tactics over an issue that has little benefit to the village, but if allowed to progress, the result will be felt long and hard.

Briefly, a company, Shire Oak Energy, owned by Mark Shorrock, plan to re-open Dean Quarry to provide rock for a breakwater for the world's first purpose built tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea. This lagoon will use the changing tides to harness and generate renewable electricity. The project depends on the government granting planning permission to proceed. If granted, the quarry will supply 1.5 million tonnes of high density gabbro, ideal rock for a tidal lagoon, to its sister company, Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay in the first year of re-opening. Compare this to the 200K extracted annually before closing in 2008.

The company have secured ownership of Dean quarry and existing mineral rights which expire in 2035. These include the quarry and rock beneath the fields edging the hamlet of Rosenithon and Roskilly's farm, although at this point, Mark Shorrock has said that he does not intend to extend extracting rock from the existing footprint of the quarry. However, The mineral rights extend inland to within 900m from the school and the village and with the intent to supply rock for a second and third lagoon it is questionable that these rights will not be exercised in the future.

Dean Quarry Aerial from Sea Dean Quarry the lake

Before blasting can commence, planning permission is being sought for staff buildings and an explosives store on the site and to demolish the old pier and build two jetties and a 600m breakwater and moorings for the barges. The new jetty would mean that it would be a coastal quarry with the rock being shipped in barges so big they require manoeuvring in place by tugs. If this planning consent is not given, the rock will be transported by lorry through one-car-width, narrow lanes. My understanding is that TLSB have permission to quarry rock but need a licence from the Marine Management Organisation to build the jetties and planning permission from Cornwall Council.

On the face of it, the Tidal Lagoon Project as a green initiative is a sensible alternative as a renewable energy sources. But surely, It is out of balance and beyond common sense if a 'green initiative' results in the destruction of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is madness to disregard the impact this will have on the community and the countryside from pollution creating noise and dust, carrying carcinogenic particles, from the constant detonating of explosives and will be a palpable threat to a place that is peaceful and remote, with clean air, a beautiful landscape and an amazing marine environment; so special it has SSSI, AONB and Marine Conservation Zone status.

The land and sea yield a gentle economic sustainability; traditional fishing and farming co-exist alongside enterprises that have started up in recent years harvesting natural resources; the Cornish Sea Salt , Cornish Seaweed Company, Porthkerris Dive School and Roskilly's Organic Farm come immediately to mind; with tourism at the heart of the local economy. A great hole spewing toxic dust will be devastating. Once the plunder and pillaging begins, the damage is done; one only has to look at the disfiguring scrap left by the tin mining and china clay industries as evidence.

Drive through the village of St Keverne, turn right past the school and continue down the hill; to the left is a narrow lane that leads to the hamlet of Rosenithon and there's a gate with a charmingly designed sign welcoming visitors to wander round the ponds, withy woods and orchards, dense with gunnera and ducks. Paths wind through an enchanted valley towards the sea. Bear right to Tregellast Barton, the home of Roskilly's Croust House, selling some of the best dairy products anywhere from the family's organic, Jersey herd. Keep ahead to Dean Quarry. Nature has done its best to heal the scarring and it's settled into a discrete harmony with the habitat. The spoil from previous blasting formed the beach at Godrevy and I recall many happy school summer holidays fishing and swimming from the rocks and it wasn't unusual to feel the 'earth move' with subterranean rumblings at blasting time.

The re-opening of the quarry has caught the village off-guard and there is a real concern that it's a 'done deal', unless action is taken quickly. This area of Cornwall, has been an AONB since 1951 and is protected by the 1949 National Parks and Assess to the Countryside Act and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The organisation has a new website, and it's strap line states that an AONB is exactly what it says it is: an outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them. Isn't it the responsibility of Landscapes for Life to ensure that the letter and spirit of these laws is adhered to?

Cornwall's a poor county but blessed with riches of abundant wildlife, an ancient history and culture - industrialisation should not be allowed to profit from a priceless natural asset. We are custodians of the countryside and it's not an airy-fairy notion to protect an idyllic way of life, it's what we bequeath to those that follow us. The action group, Community Against Dean Super Quarry has regularly updated information and is fighting the planning application every step of the way and needs all the lobbying and support it can get.

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