A controversial scheme to create a massive 284-acre super-quarry in a tiny hamlet near Lutterworth would “decimate” the surrounding countryside, warns south Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa.
Mr Costa is also warning that the proposed 20-year eight million tonne sand and gravel blueprint at Misterton would trigger an 75,000 extra heavy lorry journeys a year.
The Conservative MP is being backed by local councillors as he called for villagers to be fully engaged with and consulted over the monster initiative alongside the busy A4304 Market Harborough-Lutterworth road.
Mr Costa has hit out as quarry giant Tarmac gears up to submit an initial “scoping report” to Leicestershire County Council about the contentious project by junction 20 of the M1.
The huge national aggregates and asphalt operator is acting to replace Shawell Quarry, which is due to close in the next two or three years, in the west of Harborough district.
Insisting they are a “conscientious neighbour”, Tarmac say they badly need the sand and gravel to help power new local housing estates.
But today Mr Costa told the Harborough Mail: “The plans for a new sand and gravel quarry near the village of Misterton are indeed in their very early stages at present.
“However, I am quite concerned as to what have I seen so far, especially given the sheer size of the proposals which would decimate existing green land and would significantly add a huge number of HGVs to what is already a congested local road network.”
About eight million tonnes of sand and gravel would be extracted from the enormous quarry in the countryside around Misterton over the next 20 years if it gets the go-ahead.
Mr Costa is now launching a high-profile campaign to put the project into the public arena after studying the proposed plans.
The MP is working hand in hand with Cllr Jonathan Bateman, the Harborough District Councillor for Misterton Ward.
And they both warned that the quarry would generate “almost 75,000 HGV movements per year to the site should the plans be approved”.
“Clearly it is very important for local people in and around Misterton, Lutterworth and Walcote to have their say on these plans - and I have received assurances from Tarmac that they will be consulting widely very soon.
“Similarly, I will soon be convening a meeting of local councillors and stakeholders to gauge my constituents’ opinions,” insisted Mr Costa.
“And we will then set a plan to explore how we interact with this application moving forward.”
Throwing his weight behind the local MP, Cllr Bateman said that a significant swathe of “green space and natural habitat” would be wiped out having a devastating impact on wildlife.
And the Conservative councillor said there would be a “massive increase” in the number of wagons pouring on to the rural A4304 road.
“I fully agree with Alberto’s concerns over these plans, particularly in regard to the loss of green space and natural habitat together with a massive increase in vehicle movements locally,” said Cllr Bateman.
“Whilst we accept that the final decision in this case will lie with Leicestershire County Council, both myself and Alberto will continue working closely with local residents and parish councils to ensure that their voices are heard loud and clear.”
Stephen Walkley, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Misterton ward, told the Mail he was “appalled” by the landmark blueprint.
Mr Walkley said that combined with the nearby £1billion, 3,000-home Lutterworth East development it “will devastate almost 1,000 acres of South Leicestershire”.
“The quarry is bigger than Tarmac’s existing quarry at Shawell and it will destroy farmland and local wildlife and historic sites and swamp local roads with even more heavy lorries.
“Tarmac’s own figures suggest 242 lorry movements a day – a lorry every two minutes on to the A4304 Lutterworth to Harborough road. “Many of these huge lorries will head north through Lutterworth or south on the A426 as they are unable to access the M6 from the M1 at junction 18,” declared Mr Walkley.
“The local roads and villages cannot cope with the current traffic levels as it is.
“The proposal make no mention of the effect on the proposed adjacent Lutterworth East development – strongly opposed by Liberal Democrats.
“If Lutterworth East goes ahead lorries will swamp the already inadequate spine road in the new development.
“Traffic, noise and air pollution are all major concerns in South Leicestershire.
“Liberal Democrats are now calling on residents to tell Conservative-ruled Leicestershire and Harborough councils that they don’t want the green fields of south Leicestershire destroyed,” added the local Lib Dem spokesman.
A Leicestershire County Council spokesman said: "We are yet to receive any application but when we do it will be considered by the Development Control and Regulatory Board at a later date.
“The Board will then consider advice from our planning officers in line with our statutory obligations when determining proposed schemes such as this one.”
Malcolm Lawer, head of strategic planning and geology at Tarmac, told the Mail: ‘We are at the very early stages of exploring our options for the site, which will look to deliver much-needed sand and gravel for construction projects in the area.
“Tarmac is a conscientious neighbour, which is why we discussed our plans with the local MP and councillor at the very earliest opportunity,” said Mr Lawer.
“Should we move forward with the plans, depending on the results of the scoping report, we will engage and consult fully with residents about our proposals.”