Portland quarry firm issues £18m Dorset council claim

Chesil Beach on the Jurassic Coast pictured from Portland Image copyright Oliver Dixon
Image caption Stone Firms Ltd claims that revised planning permission on the Jurassic Coast means it cannot access a site it owns

A Portland quarry firm is attempting to claim £18m in compensation from Dorset County Council following changes to access to a site it owns.

Portland Stone Firms Ltd bought the rights to quarry on the Jurassic Coast in 2004.

But it claims a "modification order" in 2009 means there is no longer safe access to the site near Southwell.

The company said it has spent nearly £1m on legal fees ahead of a tribunal due to take place on 4 June.

Image copyright Mike Faherty
Image caption Portland Stone Firms Ltd claims it cannot access a quarry site, similar to this disused sheat quarry in Southwell, after access was modified by Dorset County Council

According to the company's estates manager, Tim Clotworthy, the loss of access north of Southwell means the only other route for quarry vehicles to enter the site is through the village itself.

He said: "The matter will be referred to the Lands Tribunal, this has been a process that has been going on for nearly 10 years.

"It has had a huge impact on the business."

Portland Stone Firms Ltd bought the tract of land in 2004 with planning permission to quarry the area and access the site north of Southwell.

In 2009 the council put a modification order in place, which meant the site had to be accessed through Southwell - an option that Mr Clotworthy thinks is "not safe".

He added: "The compensation won't match the amount of stone that's in the ground, the stone is more valuable."

The Jurassic Coast in Portland is a UNESCO world heritage site and a number of Southwell residents are concerned mining around the village will mean the area will be lost for generations.

Campaigners set up the group Save Our Coastal Strip From Quarrying to lobby the council to not allow quarrying around Southwell.

Resident and campaigner Maxine Frodsham said: "I'm very, very concerned that there's a real possibility the land could be quarried and we could lose it."

She added there has been "nothing" from Dorset County Council and that "they need to start opening their mouths".

A spokesperson from Dorset County Council said: "As this matter is subject to an ongoing legal process, we are unable to make any further comment at this time."

Portland stone has been used in buildings such as Buckingham Palace and St Paul's Cathedral and continues to be mined around the Jurassic Coast.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites