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Decision on Llay quarry goes to site visit

by Rory Sheehan

A DECSION on a quarry extension in Llay rests on a site visit from councillors.

Wrexham Council’s planning committee will visit Ballswood Quarry, off Gegin Lane in the village, after a heated two-hour debate about the application during their monthly meeting.

An official complaint is also to be made on behalf of Llay Cllr Bryan Apsley (Lab), who sits on the committee, after it was acknowledged he had been misquoted in comments about the application in a report which went in front of members.

The quarry, which is used for mineral extraction, dates back to the 1800’s. The applicants warned that supplies of construction materials from the current area of the site could run out in the near future, and that they needed to extend into eastern and western parts of the site as an alternative.

The council’s planning department recommended the application be approved as they considered there were no justifiable reasons to refuse, despite objections from residents.

Speaking at the meeting, resident Andrew McNulty, who has lived off Gegin Lane for 25 years said that while he appreciated sand and gravel needs to be obtained – noise, dust, and vibrations are already a constant disruption and with the new housing estate on Straight Mile, believes that junction to be a hazard.

Richard Parton owner of Cheshire and North Wales Sand and Gravel Ltd which operates at the quarry, spoke in favour – saying it was a key provider for the local region and its building and construction industry.

He said approving the application would maintain local employment, support the economy, and that the company would provide a £100,000 wheelwash, and resurfacing of a section of Gegin Lane.

Llay Cllr Rob Walsh (Ind) spoke to object. He cited noise, vibrations, HGVs, cracks down walls of homes, mud on the road, dust, and potholes among the concerns shared with him by residents over a number of years.

“It’s a country lane (Gegin Lane)” he said.

“Times have moved on and the way the quarry operates does not co-exist with residents now.”

He added that he did not want to see employment or business reduced, but the wellbeing and quality of life of residents was important.

His fellow Llay Councillor, Bryan Apsley spoke at length about his unhappiness at the council’s documentation of the history of the site.

And he claimed he was misquoted as saying he “strongly objects” in the report to members, as he was adamant he did not use those words but used the word ‘concerns’ instead.

For him to have been on the record as ‘strongly objecting’ would have led to the accusation he had a ‘closed mind’ with regards to the application.

Planning committee chair Holt Cllr Michael Morris (Con) agreed that the minutes of the meeting should reflect that Cllr Apsley had concerns rather than “strong objections”.

Ruabon Cllr Dana Davies (Lab) said the misrepresentation of Cllr Apsley’s views was a huge error for the council to have made in documents out in the publicc domain, and that she would be making a complaint on his behalf.

She said:

“I will be seeking a formal complaint on behalf of Cllr. Apsley. I think the embarrassment afforded to a member and the advice from the legal department on this meeting, we can’t have that happening in future committee meetings.”

Addressing other members concerns during the meeting, planning officer Hannah Parish said there would be no increase in traffic around the site.

Cllr Dana Davies had moved to refuse the application on grounds of amenity, before Dyffryn Ceiriog Cllr Trevor Bates (Ind) proposed site visit so councillors could view it for themselves. This was seconded by Overton Cllr John McCusker (Ind).

Members ultimately voted to defer for the site visit, before they decide on the application which will take place a week on Friday.

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