Plans for a new water bottling plant using Rockhead Spring in Buxton have been slammed by residents who say its construction will cause significant noise and traffic disruption.
The proposal, for the site of the former Cowdale Quarry off the A6, includes offices, storage areas and parking together with landscaping, a pond and new access.
The application, submitted to High Peak Borough Council by Express Park Buxton, will involve the removal and crushing of approximately a million tonnes of rock to make a new entrance road and tunnel to the A6 and to sink the factory 15 metres into the ground.
As the proposal involves extracting minerals, Derbyshire County Council is meeting with the borough council to talk about which authority should handle the application, what form it should take and whether it would need to be resubmitted.
Resident Stuart Engall said: “This is not just the proposed construction of a single building, it’s a return to blasting, stone extraction and rock crushing on a large scale. The consequences of which will be felt across Buxton.”
Resident Katie Engall agreed, saying: “Blasting would involve road closures along the A6 in Ashwood Dale, causing serious traffic disruption in Buxton and surrounding rural areas.
“With heavy machinery crushing and grading rock for months on end and blasting twice a week, life in the tranquil environment of Cowdale and Staden would be made miserable as houses will only be 200 metres or less from these quarrying operations with all the noise and dust entailed.”
She added: “Although the developer has anticipated 19,000 lorry movements in the proposal, they have failed to include empty lorries arriving, indicating only full ones leaving, and the quantity of stone has also been considerably underestimated.
“In reality, there would be 50 to 60,000 HGV movements. Over a period of two years or more this will lead to a massive increase in heavy vehicle traffic through to the Morrisons roundabout in Buxton and along the A6 into the Peak District National Park, a popular tourist route.”
The developer’s design and access statement states: “The proximity of the A6 to the site is masked by the escarpment that exists between the quarry floor and the A6. The large level differences between the two areas will also mitigate any noise or vibration transference.”
It added: “The proposed bottling plant in Cowdale Quarry involves the creation of much needed employment through the utilisation of a natural resource.
“The site at Cowdale Quarry has been found to be the only suitable site large enough to support a plant of this size able to produce a sufficient quantity of Rockhead mineral water to be economically viable.”
It concluded: “Overall the proposed development has the potential to add positively to the economy of Buxton by promoting the town as a leading mineral water distributor.”
Cowdale resident Chris Wooding said: “This appears to be a backdoor attempt to start quarrying again and must be seen as such.
“Because the site has reverted to nature in the 60 years since quarrying ceased, the government planning inspector noted in 2012 that it should be classified as a greenfield not a brownfield site.
“Such a development on such a scale, would set a dangerous precedent locally. If this site is developed, then no greenfield land in Buxton is safe.”
Ian Jewson, acting as agent for the applicant, said: “Fully detailed information on our planning application, the reference number for which is HPK/2014/0023, is available to the public on the High Peak Borough Council website.
“Our application is for a revised proposal that addresses the outstanding matters identified by the inspector at the 2012 inquiry.
“As the planning application is currently being considered by the council, it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further on the process at this stage ”
Hazel Everett, chairman of King Sterndale Parish Council said: “I find the above plans to be totally without foundation. I’m concerned about the 24-hour noise pollution, the constant blasting, effects on our wildlife, effects on our roads, a dangerous environment for our children so near so many of our cottages and the effect on tourism, as we rely a lot on our beautiful villages to explore our Peak District and encourage others to enjoy it.
“This will be just another area that we will lose. We’re doing all we can to object to this planning proposal.”
Cote Heath Cllr Lynn Stone said: “I share the concerns expressed to me by local residents regarding this planning application in relation to the construction of a bottling factory at the hamlet of Cowdale.
“The impact on the surrounding hamlets should not be underestimated. The construction of a tunnel from Cowdale down to the A6 Ashwood Dale, and the thousands of lorry journeys needed to remove the stone from the construction site, will in my opinion, cause major disruption to traffic along this main route and the A515.
“I believe the application will have a negative impact on the environment, including woodlands and the ancient monument and the surrounding countryside.”
Residents can comment on the proposal either online through the council website at planning.highpeak.gov.uk or in writing to the planning officer Jane Colley at Development Control Section, High Peak Borough Council, Town Hall, Buxton SK17 6EL.