Public meeting over Hermitage Quarry extension plan

Oaken Wood Campaigners fighting the plans said Oaken Wood had at least six different bat species

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Campaigners fighting plans to extend a quarry are set to attend a public meeting to show their strength of feeling against the proposals.

The meeting is for Kent councillors to gather the views of people affected by the plans for the site near Maidstone.

Gallagher Aggregates has said the quarry is one of few sites in the county where ragstone can be found.

Campaigners have objected to the impact on wildlife in Oaken Wood and noise and dust caused by further quarrying.

Kent County Council (KCC) said about 200 people were expected to attend the meeting later.

No decision would be made on the plans until January at the earliest, a spokesman added.

Start Quote

If we don't get this permission then the local economy loses 50 direct jobs”

End Quote Nick Yandle Gallagher Group

The Save Oaken Wood Action Group said Kent Wildlife Trust has found at least six different bat species and 37 bird species on the site.

Nick Yandle, chief executive of the Gallagher Group, said: "The meeting is obviously part of the consultation process.

"We have found the more we explain to people the more settled they become in their minds."

He added: "This is 50 jobs for 25 years. If we don't get this permission then the local economy loses 50 direct jobs and you can treble that for indirect jobs that flow from it.

"Also it is the only highly mechanised ragstone quarry in Kent. If we don't do it, it will have to be imported."

Mr Yandle added that the design of the quarry would mitigate the ecological impact on the site and the quarry plans would not just compensate for the wildlife habitat but improve it.

Plans set out by the company said the land would be returned to woodland as soon as possible after extraction and infilling.

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