Thursday, 11 July 2013

"Welcome to Quarryville"

Tarmac's Bayston Hill Quarry              © Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
People can make of this what they will. It may reassure some people. It may sound like mineral company propaganda to others. It's Tarmac's idea of dispelling the, what it would call, "myths" of the effects of a new hard rock quarry in the neighbourhood. "Tarmac’s Quarryville website is an education resource for schools that supports key content areas of the National Curriculum, Key Stages 2 and 3".
The Quarryville Rock Quarry has been operating for six years – quite a short time for a quarry. When it was first announced that Tarmac, the company that owns and operates the quarry was planning to start the quarry, there was quite a bit of local opposition. Now relations between Tarmac and the local community are excellent and everybody’s convinced the rock quarry is good news for Quarryville. What do you think happened to change people’s minds? Here are some of the bad things local residents thought might happen back in 1996 and the solutions provided.
Tarmac tackles a number of issues, but concludes by reassuring readers that:
So, as you can see, most of the original concerns about the rock quarry were nothing to worry about at all. Nowadays, most people in Quarryville can’t imagine what life would be like without their big, friendly neighbour. Tarmac even sponsor the local football team, Quarryville Falcons. What’s happening at Quarryville is a small example of what happens all over the country. The total area of land permitted for quarrying aggregate is about 45,000 hectares, that’s just 0.35% of the surface area of England. And only half of that area is being quarried at present – that’s 0.17%, or less than one-fifth of one percent. We’re sure you wouldn’t mind giving up one-fifth of one percent of your food – ie, a few crumbs off your plate - to stop another person going hungry. So why shouldn’t we all give up a few handfuls of earth to help build the houses, roads, hospitals, and millions of other things we all need?
Why not indeed, when put so simply? A few crumbs - 45,000 hectares, the area of 63,000 football pitches. A few crumbs - or an East Devon dairy farm, or the prospects of an East Devon town. A few crumbs - that would also, by the way, prop up the profitability of a Swiss aggregates giant. Why not?

But unfortunately for Tarmac, Aggregate Industries and others, it's not that simple. Quarrying may be important, and help build hospitals and "millions of other things", but it's an invasive and destructive operation. Not all sites are suitable. Different sites present different environmental and locational complications. So, however good the PR, however much the local football team is supported - some complications are surmountable, some are not.