240 lorries will go through village every day

Quarry lorries will continue to travel through a small village for more than six years despite fierce opposition from three parish councils. Up to 240 heavy goods vehicles a day will travel through Borough Green as trucking company, Robert Body Haulage Ltd, seeks to naturally restore the Wrotham Road quarry over the next 78 months, two years quicker than the originally planned date of 2028.

240 lorries from a quarry will head through Borough Green every day. Stock picture

The journeys will represent a 32% increase to the current 182 daily lorry trips permitted on the A227 Wrotham Road. The plans were submitted to Kent County Council (KCC) last year and have been a bone of contention with residents, campaigners and councillors.

Calls were made for a deferral by Tonbridge and Malling county councillor Harry Rayner (Con), who represents the area, but this was narrowly dismissed by Kent County Council's (KCC) planning committee during a virtual meeting earlier today.

Seven KCC members voted in favour of increasing the number of vehicles from 182 to 240 while six voted against the motion. Thanet county councillor Rosalind Binks (Con), who voted against, said: "There's nothing temporary about six years, if you are suffering from traffic." Unconvinced by the plans, she said: "I appreciate restoration is encouraged at the earliest opportunity, but frankly if you wanted the earliest opportunity you could work 24 hours and get it finished at four years at the most."

The quarry could legally be used until 2042. Stock picture

Operations at Borough Green quarry may continue until February 2042, according to a High Court judgement from 1996, but the applicant seeks to restore the quarry by 2026 at the latest.

KCC planning committee chairman, Cllr Alan Marsh (Con), said: "For people living in the area, whatever improvement, anything has to be better than dragging it out until 2042." Despite supporting the motion, Cllr Dick Pascoe, KCC's planning committee vice-chairman, said: "I would be very loathe to see any heavy vehicles going into Borough Green, it's such a narrow street and bad enough trying to take a car through there."

Plans were submitted to KCC last year to amend an existing planning condition to allow an increase in the number of lorry trips to speed up the restoration of the 13 hectare quarry, which is based on Green Belt land, to bring about the environmental benefits of natural agricultural land. To achieve this, the applicant says that 120 vehicles will need to travel into the Wrotham Road site and 120 to depart, which would result in an increase of 58 HGV trips each nine-hour period for the next six years.

The truck company says it will avoid travelling through the village and instead move around the north via the A20 roundabout junction near Bull Lane, passing two schools. Movements will take place six days a week from 7am to 6pm Monday to Fridays and 7am to 1pm on Saturdays. Objections were sent to KCC by 10 residents, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Wrotham, Platt and Borough Green parish councils, who submitted a joint statement to KCC, which was read out in today's meeting.

They say: "If looked at logically, an increase of over 32% in daily HGV movements along the road causes increased pollution and noise to all who encounter the vehicles. "This is detrimental to the environment of children playing in the skate park, residential housing, children in Wrotham School and autistic students in Grange Park School." The applicant's agent, Barton Wilmore, said thatHGVs account for 5% of all existing traffic on the A227 Wrotham Road and the 240 HGV trips would only represent a 1% uplift.

KCC highways team said the rise would not have a "severe" impact on roads. Vehicles will be required to turn left, away from the village and towards the A20 roundabout. Robert Body Haulage Ltd says this will be "strictly upheld".

They have been prohibited from travelling in and out of the site during school peak times from 8am to 8.45am and 3pm and 3.45pm. It is also hoped that restoration will be completed in time for the 3,000 homes planned for development on nearby greenbelt land for Borough Green's garden city, which has been met with opposition from residents. However, Cllr Rayner described the KCC planning report as "wholly incorrect" around potential impacts of increased trips on the local road network and warned County Hall chiefs they could face a judicial review over the decision.

Swale county councillor John Wright (Con), a planning committee member, said: "We have to remember there is an existing planning permission and it's simply about increasing that number of HGVs."

However, KCC planning officer Jim Wooldridge described the measures in place as "reasonable" under the circumstances, but admitted that little could be done to prevent any lorry driver travelling up the A227 if they choose to do so.

Read more: All the latest news from Malling


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