Our position on Anick Haughs gravel quarrying
Tyne Rivers Trust is not a pressure group and we await good scientific evidence in all development-related issues, including this one. We have considerable experience in linking to NCC Planning and EA regulatory issues for previous relevant sites such as Plenmeller opencast mining and subsequent major mining developments in the Derwent and South Tyne catchments. Our voluntary contribution to protecting the Tyne river system was recently revealed by the pollution evidence gathered by our volunteers downstream of the Hartley Burn opencast site.
Our position is to identify Tyne Rivers Trust as a valued consultee in the planning process, to contribute evidence to the granted planning conditions (in Anick Haughs case Environment Agency may refer to us as formal consultees, seeking advice) and then to approve and monitor site development.
The Trust’s in-house expertise and practical experience convinces us that, as well as being legally protected under the Water Framework Directive, the ‘connectivity’ between a river and its floodplain (both by spilling out-of-bank and by underground routes through the gravels) is vital for catchment management. Despite management options within the proposed quarry, our experience is that there are few options to securely, and in the longer term, to prevent the following hazards to the Tyne:
- Ingress of extreme flood flows to the quarry site from the Tyne: damaging to site management and any mitigation management sought in planning measures;
- Egress of heavily sediment-contaminated flows from the quarry to the river following any breach;
- Storage of Kielder releases and natural low flows at a major ‘built’ floodplain reservoir at Anick Haughs, reducing the effective ecological flows in the river.
As a general principle, rooted in our charitable role for the Tyne catchment, we will oppose development or management conditions for the Anick site that do not protect the river or the floodplain in the wider context of both local hydrology and management of downstream issues, such as flooding at Corbridge;
Clearly the floodplain is a ‘sacrificial’ gravel source but experience in e.g. Coquet catchment, where we have provided consultancy advice for Caistron, tells us that limited Tyne floodplains need strategic protection – as evidenced by the 2015 Storm Desmond damage on the south bank, downstream, at ‘Trees Please’ Widehaugh;
Tyne Rivers Trust, basing its position on evidence, is capable of providing professional advice to all interested parties in terms of:
- Topographic survey and interpretation at a site scale;
- Sediment supply/retention on-site for the quarry proposed;
- Flood risk assessment in geomorphological terms (different to the ‘normal’ assessment of risk);
- Review of local relevant climate change evidence as a precautionary principle;