UNDER-fire bosses at a quarry in South Tyneside have assured nearby residents they want to be “good neighbours”.
Owen Pugh has been crushing and recycling inert construction waste for export at Marsden Quarry since July 2011 under the terms of a planning order which was granted on an 18-month trial basis.
Now the company is bidding to make the arrangement permanent and has applied for planning permission to do so.
That’s angered residents in nearby Mill Lane, Whitburn, who hoped the site would soon be converted into a coastal haven.
They claim their lives have been made a misery by a constant flow of trucks to and from the quarry.
But bosses at Owen Pugh Aggregates, which operates the site, say they will work with their neighbours to ease these concerns.
They also say they are committed to leaving the legacy of a coastal park to benefit the whole community when they aim to exit the site – in 14 years’ time.
Andy Mountford, the company’s general manager, said: “We operate an ‘open door’ policy. There is absolutely nothing we want to hide.
“If any resident wants to come to us with any concerns we will act upon them, and they can visit the site for themselves.”
John Briggs, estates and development manager, added: “This is an application to continue the existing operation at the quarry.
“We are not looking to increase the number of lorries or increase the working hours.
“As regards noise and dust, we are not seeking any changes to the permitted levels and there has been no increase evident since recycling commenced on the site.
“Additionally, no change is being sought to the quarrying or landfill operations at the site.
“We believe we are good neighbours and we want to remain good neighbours as long as we are here.”
But Ronald Fenwick, who has lived in Mill Lane for 42 years, said: “We have had enough. I am 71 years old and this issue has been going on for more than 40 years.
“They are asking for permanent crushing. Why, if they say they are going to create a coastal park in 14 years, do they need permanent planning permission?
“The council need to make them stick to the original proposals.
“I have handed in petitions in the past regarding this site and issues of dust and other problems, but I’ve been told those petitions can’t be used to back up our argument.
“But I’m getting older and it’s getting harder for me to go round the doors asking for people to sign.”
Local councillor Coun Tracey Dixon said: “I am aware of the planning application that has been submitted and I do have grave concerns about making it permanent.
“I will be looking at the temporary planning application they submitted and this application to have it made permanent and will be going through it with a fine tooth comb.
“Since the issue has come to light, I have had talks with the council officers and I am awaiting further information.
“I will also be making every effort to be at the planning meeting to hear what is being said and where necessary voice my concerns.”
Any Whitburn residents with concerns about the site are invited to call Mr Mountford direct on 529 2441.