Published: 00:01, 01 February 2018
Swathes of marshland in Dartford could be quarried after Kent County Council identified two sites as part of its plan to secure the future of the county’s mineral supply.
In total more than 70 hectares (173 acres), the equivalent of 70 rugby pitches, could be used to extract 2.4m tonnes of sand, gravel and flint over a decade.
The land was put forward following the adoption of the Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan (KMWLP), which sets out a strategy for the county’s minerals supply and waste management capacity from 2013 to 2030.
Sites in Lydd, Capel, Stoneacre, Hadlow, Ryasrsh and a huge 60-hectare plot in Lenham are also being considered
In total 3,000 parties were invited to nominate land and nine sites in the county have now been identified, two of which are seen as being suitable for soft sand extraction, while the remaining seven – including the two at Joyce Green – have plentiful supplies of sharp sand and gravel.
The largest of the two Dartford suggestions, a 48-hectare plot known as Joyce Green Quarry and accessible from Joyce Green Lane, is on Dartford Marshes and could provide 1.5m tonnes.
It forms part of the River Thames’ floodplain and marsh priority habitat and is mostly unused, although does contain a number of public footpaths and motocross tracks.
The land is owned by Ingrebourne Valley Ltd, which specialises in reclaiming former industrial land. After it is quarried it would be reestablished as wetland with recreational parts.
Ingrebourne has recently applied to build a processing plant on land next to the proposed site.
The company – which owns a number of sites around the M25 covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and the east London borough of Havering – acquired the land in 2015.
Although no extraction has taken place since 2004, it already has planning permission to remove the remaining reserve of about 67,000 tonnes of mineral. It also wants to change restrictions on delivery times to normal working hours throughout the year. At the moment, work can only be carried out from April to September.
Work at the site would finish at the end of 2020, with the land restored.
A decision on the application will be made by KCC from March.
Half a mile away a 23-hectare parcel of land also within Dartford Marshes, off Central Road, would provide 900,000 tonnes after which point it could be restored to marshland.
The Exton Estates Ltd-owned land – which is bordered by the River Darent, Bob Dunn Way and a bridleway – is now unused, close to a residential development and subject to an ecological management plan.
Both sites are yards away from The Bridge development, which is still being built, while the Central Lane plot is bordered by residential streets. KCC’s report states environmental mitigation measures will need to be taken as well as archeological surveys on both sites while it also highlights the high levels of housing and new developments close by.
The area has been extensively quarried in the past, the impact of which will need to be assessed.
A consultation which opened last month will run until 5pm on Wednesday, March 7, with sites expected to be submitted next January and a final decision due the following December.
Comments on the proposals should be made here.