PLANS to extend a quarry in Sandiway to extract a further 350,000 tonnes of sand have been approved.

The unanimous decision was made by Cheshire West and Chester Council planning committee members yesterday evening, Tuesday.

Global building materials firm Cemex has permission to run its Forest Hill Quarry, south of the Mid Cheshire Line off Chester Road, until May 2021.

And it has now been granted permission to excavate on land to the north of the railway line over a five-year period, with a further year assigned for restoration work.

The planning application was called before the committee as it comprises a major minerals development, with no objections being raised by parish councils in the area or relevant consultees.

A report prepared in advance of the meeting by planning case officer Hazel Honeysett recommended the application be approved, and the site has also been allocated as one of most suitable sites for sand extraction in borough in the CWAC Local Plan Part Two.

Speaking before the committee, Emma Pearman, planner at Cemex, told members how the site is one of only three active within west Cheshire and how it regularly supplies building projects in Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich.

Northwich Guardian:

Map showing the new part of the quarry, north of the Mid Cheshire Line

She said: “Without this site, the mineral would have to come from further afield, with HGVs travelling longer distances.

“Sand in the extension area will be processed at rate of 75,000 tonnes per annum – the same as the current rate of output with the same operation and vehicle movement hours.”

Lorries would continue to access the quarry from the A556, to the south of the railway line, and sand will be transported along an existing tunnel underneath from the north.

Ms Pearman also spoke of the economic benefits in terms of job retention and business rates and environmental benefits after restoration through the creation of a habitat for plants and animals.

She added: “The extension would provide a boost to the local economy at a time much needed following the coronavirus lockdown.”

After progressing to a vote, the application was passed by 11 votes in favour to zero in opposition.