Thornborough Henges - Tarmac's Quarry Application Refused

By Richard Moss | 21 February 2006
Shows an aerial photograph of the central henge at Thornborough. It is a grassed over circle with a clear raised outline on which there a trees dotted around.

Tarmac's application for an extension to its quarrying operations at Ladybridge Farm near Thornborough Henges has been rejected. © English Heritage

A North Yorkshire County Council committee has rejected proposals by Tarmac to extend its Nosterfield Quarry development into the Ladybridge Farm site adjacent to Thornborough Henges in North Yorkshire.

The application by Tarmac Northern Ltd was rejected by a majority of 6 to 3 at a meeting of the County Council’s planning and regulatory functions committee at Masham Town Hall on February 21 2006.

They concluded that the application went against North Yorkshire’s mineral local plan because the location and scale of the quarrying would have an adverse impact on “nationally important archaeological remains.”

County Councillor John Fletcher, who chaired the meeting, said: “This was a hard decision to reach but the committee gave full consideration to the well articulated arguments from both sides before coming to their conclusion.”

shows an aerial photograph of Thornborough Henges. It appears as a series of circular shaped mounds linked by earthen roadways and surrounded by fields.

Thornborough Henges is a series of Neolithic earthworks which once formed part of a ritual landscape. © English Heritage

Following the decision, an English Heritage spokesperson said: “We are pleased that this application has been refused as we believe that nationally important archaeology would have been destroyed by the extension of Nosterfield Quarry.”

Thornborough Henges, which comprise three linked earthworks, is considered to be one of the most important and best-preserved prehistoric sites in the country. Although the Henges themselves are protected and not under threat the archaeological value of the surrounding landscape, which includes the Ladybridge site, has been hotly debated.

The council’s decision has been preceded by a long fought battle between Tarmac and an amalgamation of opponents including English Heritage, the Council for British Archaeology and pressure groups The Friends of Thornborough and Timewatch.

For Tarmac, estates manager Bob Nicholson vowed to appeal against the decsion. “We believe that the advice given by English Heritage is based on interpretation about the status of archaeology at Ladybridge,” he said, “and their assertion of national importance is not supported by factual evidence.”

shows an aerial shot of the Thornborough Henges.

© English Heritage

“We maintain that our application is both justified and reasonable and we will mount a robust case for its approval at appeal," he added, "when we hope that factual evidence will prevail over mythical invention.”

An original planning decision was deferred in September 2005 to allow further surveys to determine whether the area was of national archaeological significance.

The resulting independent report, commissioned by Tarmac, concluded that archaeological remains at Ladybridge were not of national significance, a claim that was refuted by English Heritage.

“We will continue to work with NYCC, local landowners, including Tarmac, and other parties to further the positive management of the Thornborough landscape,” added the English Heritage spokesperson.

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