THERE seems to be much misinformation, scare, hype and hysteria surrounding the continued gravel extraction in the Frome Valley and in particular the area around Moreton and Pallington.

I have lived or worked in Moreton since 1977. I have lived there, worked there, I have had my dreams made and indeed dashed there. Moreton runs through my veins and I know most of it. I have had at least two land based employees living in the parish of Moreton for over 20 years and currently four are housed on the estate.

As someone who has lived or worked in Moreton for most of my life I do not believe that the reality of quarrying in Moreton will bear any resemblance to the negative hype. I believe the campaign to prevent future quarrying in Moreton is mostly misguided for the following reasons.

Firstly, the ‘Superpit’, which is how it is being described, is not the reality. The proposed quarrying will take place in a phased manner. The current campaign has mentioned the previous efforts to stop the current activities in Woodford, the realities of that project have been different from the forecast scares. The pit is very small and it will move slowly across the landscape. Any quarrying in the area of the 'Superpit' would continue in a similar fashion.

The quarrying will abut the Frome Floodplain SSSI. The notification suggests that the Frome floodplain is ‘affected by varying degrees of artificial nutrient enrichment from human settlement and agricultural activities in the river catchment area’.

The proposed scheme would only improve water quality and biodiversity by a reversion from current agriculture through gravel extraction to a less intensive form of land use. The post extraction landscape would look slightly different to the landscape we know and love today but it would certainly be ultimately improved visually. Restored mineral workings resemble the landscape that Thomas Hardy and T E Lawrence would have known and loved far more than the agricultural landscape of today.

The implementation of any plan would have to be approved by Natural England.

The quarrying activities will stretch both sides of the B3390 over the considerable life of these various projects. THE B3390 road has been improved over a number of years to facilitate the safe passage of quarry traffic, it can and should be allowed to continue in the way it has been recently developed. The reality of the proposed lorry movements is that they will barely increase as the gravel will be worked to meet local demand, the gravel at present is coming from the Frome Valley and is being hauled along the B3390 and other local roads.

The above reasons are those that prevent me from opposing gravel extraction on Moreton. I do have reasons for supporting gravel extraction at Moreton.

Gravel extraction is necessary in the UK, as a nation we have a requirement for quarry products. There is talk of recycling minerals, however this seems to have been fully explored and is already happening at many of the local gravel pits. There are possibilities for extracting gravel offshore, this has been proved to be extraordinarily damaging to the environment.

Gravel extraction is a sustainable land use. Ex-gravel extraction sites across Dorset generally have higher bio diversity than neighbouring sites. There are fantastic examples of this in the parish of Moreton and the local area.

Secondly and Most importantly, gravel extraction is an important local employer. In a local economy that is rapidly losing its land-based employment base the gravel industry in the Frome Valley proves a valuable employer and therefore income stream for local people.

One notable employer in Crossways is a regional plant specialist and is the largest local employer; the gravel industry forms the cornerstone of the whole business.

When there is the possibility of the continuation of a centuries-old business that continues to support hundreds of local jobs surely this should be commended and supported This gravel extraction proposal will provide local employment and will not have any negative impact on biodiversity or quality of life for the vast majority of residents and therefore should not be feared.

Mark Gibbens

Knighton Countryside Management