Sand and Gravel Site Restoration

Lafarge Aggregates the operators of Methley Quarry are proposing to extend their areas of sand and gravel extraction and local residents were invited to attend a display of their proposals at the Methodist Church on  the 12th and 13th June, 2001.

Sand and gravel extraction has been carried out at the Methley site  for several decades, the aggregate being excavated in phases and restoration taking place thereafter.  In this instance the proposals are for the first time adjacent to long established housing from Silver Row down to the top of Boat Lane. These residents will certainly be seriously affected by the proximity of workings and the construction of mounds to hide the workings.  Those same mounds would also hide the  unrestricted views across the river to the Great Preston escarpment and Allerton Bywater.   Dust would be generated and despite assurances regarding noise and dust suppression proposals,  one only has to examine the land adjacent to the existing screens and workings to see this fine residue.

Lafarge recognise that with any development there will be a degree of visual impact on some properties but they claim that with appropriate screening measures in place – any visual impact will be kept to a minimum.

In support of their application the company stress the elements of their restoration proposals which are:-

  • Safeguard the nearby Mickletown Ings Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Create open water, wetland and species rich grassland which will complement the ings
  • Re-establish high quality agricultural land

Should the planning application be approved by Leeds City  the operator and land owner would make more friends if they offered adequate monetary compensation directly to the  people immediately affected.    That is in addition to their excellent restoration proposals, although one has to wonder what else they could do with some large holes in the ground.      I  am equally concerned about traditional access to the river using Boat Lane   At this stage it is possible that a series of challenges will be put before the planning authority.

25th September, 2001   –    Lafarge Aggregates held a further presentation, this time for the residents of Allerton Bywater at the Methodist Church, Allerton Bywater.
At this presentation Mr. David Atkinson of Lafarge informed me that since the presentation at Methley in June, it been  agreed to draw back the site extraction boundary by 30 metres where the site faces on to the housing to the east of the Queen Public House.
He was also able to to give the assurance  that the Landowner (Methley Estates) and the Operator (Lafarge), would, on presentation of the planning application.  Sign a joint legal agreement under the Town  and Country Planning Act 1990 section 106 to limit workings in the area to extraction of aggregate only, thus sterilising any future possible coal workings.
23rd November, 2001    –    Mr Atkinson clarified this by E-mail saying that the non working of mineral other than sand & grave is not contained in the application per se. He  adds that it is recorded in the submission correspondence made to the Council at the time of the application. The letter is along the lines that if the Planning Authority are prepared to  grant permission for the sand & gravel and would require as part of the consent, agreement to the non working of other minerals then the two parties would concur to such an agreement  either by a section 106, or other legal mechanism.
The application was put to the Leeds City Mineral Planning Authority on the 25th October,  2001, the statutory consultation process will take 16 weeks although this could be extended.
March 2002     –  I have to hold my hand up here.  Having been to the first ‘hole’ (see Angling ) it is very easy to agree that the newly stocked fishing lake will be to the advantage  of the village.  The site is rurally pleasing and will be a place that will be well managed by the fishing syndicate.       Pity its only for the fishermen.
2nd May,2002   –  Leeds City Council planning authority are waiting for additional substantial information requested earlier this year following concerns expressed to Lafarge.  On receipt of this information further consultation will take place with other bodies.   To date, objections have been received from :- local residents, several councillors, The M.P., English  Nature and the Environment Agency.
November 2003  –  The Planning Inspector has now made a judgement in favour of the  Lafarge application for an extension to the Lower Mickletown extraction area following the public enquiry held at the Salvation Army Centre at Castleford.
December, 2005   – Lafarge have announced that a total of 61 residents have taken up their offer for a structural survey to be undertaken prior to de-watering operations in the Parlour Pit excavation area.
A Public Exhibition was held at the Methodist Church on 6th December, 2005 with representatives of Lafarge Aggregates present outlining proposals for extraction from the existing processing plant and Dunford House.
November, 2008   –  Report in the Methley Messenger from the Resident’s Meeting says that Lafarge have now been given approval to take out coal and that the village will benefit from Section 38 monies.  Funny, when I searched Leeds City Planning Application lists – the application was not presented until Christmas week – it must be magic.
May, 2014  –   Gantries and screening structure have now been dismantled.   I have no knowledge of when extraction ceased, however it is evident that piles of sand and gravel remain on the site, the company have made some agreeable restoration to their excavation areas in the past, surely they will restore the disposal site, won’t they?    Wonder when they will restore the footpath which was closed during operations?
November, 2014   –  Mr David Atkinson of Lafarge Tarmac has given an update of the future of the site as follows:-
I have noticed on your web site reference to the quarry ( May 2014 ) entry.      The situation is that operational extraction effectively ceased August 2013 and the processing plant was removed at the end of last year (2013).   There was a small amount of sand & gravel placed in the former plant site from the area near the access road pylons this summer. Planning permission for extraction expires the end of this month with a further year to complete infill and restoration. The site has planning permission for infill with imported inert material to create a causeway across the extraction area for the return of the footpath to its original route. 

The company are awaiting approval by the Environment Agency regarding the composition of the infill before works can commence.   On completion of restoration works this web page will be withdrawn and mothballed.   The village now have two medium sized ponds, one for leisure (angling pursuits) and as yet the second pond looks as if it will become an addition to one of Methley’s many water features (Ings).
January, 2016   –   A further update from David Atkinson of now CRH operating under the name of Tarmac, don’t know if that means a buy out, a company separation, or, indeed a takeover is as follows :-

 I thought it would be helpful to provide a further update. Since August last  year the Company has been acquired by CRH and is now in the UK operating under  the Tarmac name.

The Environment Agency granted the Permit to enable infill of the original  footpath line that had been subject to mineral extraction on 21st December 2015.  The delay arose from an original refusal that was overturning following a  series of Appeal and legal challenges.

The planning consent was due to expire November 2015 and application has  been made to Leeds CC for a 2 year extension to enable restoration to be  complete. The Company currently intends to commence former plant site  restoration works Spring 2016 weather dependent.

Nature is already taking over along with a strong tree planting programme.   I look forward to being first in the queue when the small footpath is restored.  On completion the area will be a great asset to this village.

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