By Chris Hopkins,
Senior Vice President, Aggregates and Mining, The Saint Consulting Group
More often than not, local residents overreact to news of new development, especially new quarries and mines, why? Let’s look at the dismay of villagers in Oxfordshire, England, who reflect the challenges that aggregate firms must learn to meet in order to survive.
There are a number of reasons the villagers fear “20 years of hell” from a county decision to allow soft sand quarrying — and protecting their most significant investment, their home, is primary among the reasons.
Other reasons can be that rumors fly and residents don’t always receive honest assessments of impacts by outside groups with different agendas than their own. This article in The Didcot Herald captures many typical reactions, ut the full story and the positive impacts are rarely spoken about except by the developer. Let’s examine some from this article.
- 40 lorry trips a day, spread out over a 12-hour a day is equal to an extra truck on the road every 18 minutes.
- This site is replacing an existing soft sand quarry site in the community, no additional quarries are being added, only replaced.
- Quarrying is not like other industries — a quarry must be located where nature placed the resources millions of years ago, there is very little latitude regarding site selection.
The existing site is being restored to woodlands. Restoration is an extremely significant portion of quarry planning. No quarry is approved these days unless a detailed reclamation plan is on file and approved that will determine how the land will be left. In this case, three of the four fields will be restored to woodlands and the fourth will be donated to a nature preserve after it is restored.
The county is required to have minimal mineral reserves within the county. This site will help maintain that level.
In addition there are steps that can and usually are taken to mitigate any of the negative impacts. In this situation there are buffers which will keep the quarry from public view, there are noise buffer available. Finally soft sand quarrying little if any blasting the way a typical hard rock quarry would.
Developments such as this need to be examined in the big picture and not the most provincial terms that it usually are on the public stage.
Chris Hopkins just visited the UK and met with British aggregates firms. He is senior vice president, aggregates and mining, The Saint Consulting Group, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +1 615-656-3794