WAGE (Wootton/Whippingham Against Gravel Extraction):

Steve Burton’s letter to the County Press (13-06-24) predictably dismissed the concerns of local people about risks to health from the proposed 900,000 tonnes of sand and gravel extraction at Palmers Farm in Wootton.

The evidence gathered internationally over recent years is that sand and gravel quarrying should not be located close to housing.

If there is no risk to health, then why are many countries using legislation to stop sand and gravel extraction being sited near residential areas?

A Private Members Bill tabled in Parliament in 2021 advocated limiting sand and gravel quarrying to a minimum of 1,000m from any residential area.

In Wootton, housing is less than 50m away. The primary school and recreation ground are also well within 1,000m of the proposed quarry.

The World Health Organisation stated when it comes to particulate matter, “there is no evidence of a safe level of exposure or threshold below which no adverse health effects occur”.

Mr Burton also claimed his company has been “quarrying on the Island for over 100 years” and is “proud of our Island heritage”.

In fact, Wight Building Materials was formed in 2013 as a joint venture between UK subsidiaries of two multinationals, Holcim, which is Swiss, and Vinci, which is French, with revenues in the billions.

Ringway Island Roads, the Council’s PFI contractor for highways, also belongs to Vinci. These are not local companies with regard for Islanders.

Mr Burton claims there will be no dust from the quarry, but would that really be the case during record-breaking dry, hot summers such as those of recent years?

The Secretary of State, rejecting the Bengeo Quarry in Hertford last year, noted “Stockpiled supplies would quickly dry out and generate dust on loading. During dry weather the mobile plant, both on-site and leaving the site, would generate dust as it moved around and was loaded... there is sound risk that vulnerable residents with respiratory issues and children with developing lungs would be affected through airborne disbursement”.

The risk to health from dust is just one of the reasons we are urging the Isle of Wight Council to reject the quarry application.

The revised access route on Palmers Road is unsuitable for up to 50 HGVs a day.

There is also significant environmental risk to the neighbouring Kings Quay SSSI and the Solent.

In 2010 the council’s independent expert survey ranked Palmers Farm as one of the 'least preferred’ sites for sand and gravel extraction.

The council’s own landbank figures show there is plenty of material available in existing quarries which are not in residential areas, such as Cheverton pit.

Therefore, alternative sites and sources should be considered, along with increased recycling to ensure the sustainable production of construction materials on the Island.