consultation on quarry reopening through-out Covid-19


The Background

Bartlett’s Quarry (part of the Coleman’s Quarry complex) is a limestone quarry near Nunney, Somerset which was mothballed in 2007. In 2019, Aggregate Industries took the decision that it was necessary to re-open the quarry to support production at its nearby Torr Works Quarry. The quarry contains permitted reserves of carboniferous limestone with a planning end date of February 2042. The on-site asphalt plant has continued to operate since the quarry was mothballed with all aggregate currently imported to the plant. Access and egress from the quarry is via the A361, part of Somerset’s strategic road network.


The Problem

The usual consultation process for the reopening of the site had gone smoothly - scoping discussions regarding the nature of the applications required to re-open the quarry took place with Somerset County Council over the summer of 2019, together with some initial ecological survey work to establish what further surveys would be required to support the applications. Plans for the reopening were shared with representatives of the local community at the joint Torr/Colemans Quarries Liaison Committee in October 2019. Then on the 2nd December 2019 the Company’s Planning Manager attended a meeting of Nunney Parish Council, within whose parish the quarry is located, to answer questions on this project from councillors and local residents. Then, prior to an arranged quarry visit, the COVID-19 pandemic scuppered plans for in-person events for the foreseeable future, as resident safety is of paramount importance to Aggregate Industries.


The Solution

Not letting the pandemic stand in the way of the planning process, Aggregate Industries worked through the very ‘traditional’ process in an innovative way, through the use of virtual meetings and ensuring contact was maintained with the relevant authorities and, vitally, the local community.

The necessary applications for re-opening the quarry were made to Somerset County Council in August 2020, seeking approval to only quarry permitted reserves above the groundwater table at this stage. As part of the consultation process, Aggregate Industries attended a video meeting of Nunney Parish Council on the 5 October 2020 to answer questions on the project and an update was provided to the wider community representatives as part of the Torr/Colemans Liaison meeting held on the 21 October 2020.

Throughout this process Aggregate Industries has been in regular contact with officers from Somerset County Council and there has been close liaison between our ecological consultant and the Council’s Ecology Officer, given that the quarry falls within the consultation zone for the Mendip Bats Special Area of Conservation.

With the first survey undertaken in July 2019 identifying the need for a more comprehensive suite of survey work to be undertaken, subsequent surveys taking place in October 2019, December 2019 and with COVID-19 protocol in place in April 2020. All the results were then reported within the comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment that was undertaken as part of our proposals to re-open the quarry.

Whilst the planning application has attracted the expected concerns from local residents regarding issues such as lorry movements, blasting and noise, Aggregate Industries has continued to respond to the County Council to address these promptly. Determination of the planning applications is likely to take place in the early part of 2021.

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Project details

  • Community engagement

  • Somerset County Council, Local residents

    • Adaptable approach due to COVID-19
    • Working closely with community to address concerns and minimise impact
    • Specialist conservation surveys carried out