Safety fears at deadly water-filled quarry near Wigan as uncertainty continues over its long-term use

Residents living near a deadly water-filled quarry in the Wigan area fear there will be more tragedies as wrangling continues over what to do about the site.
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East Quarry in Appley Bridge has long been a haunt for thrill-seeking youngsters in summer who will “tombstone” off the rocks, but on three occasions this has led to tragedy.

It has claimed the lives of two Wigan schoolboys: first Craig Croston and, more recently, Miracle Godson. Then last year the deep and freezing waters claimed the life of Southport teenager Jamie Lewin who tried swimming there with friends, despite the warning signs, security fencing and the site’s reputation.

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The site’s owners, Maybrook Group, wanted to drain the nearby deadly lagoon and fill it with imported waste materials before turning it into a shallow lake – effectively filling the huge hole in. This would have involved using one million cubic metres of inert waste to fill the crater.

Scenes such as this of young people at East Quarry in Appley Bridge during hot weather are commonScenes such as this of young people at East Quarry in Appley Bridge during hot weather are common
Scenes such as this of young people at East Quarry in Appley Bridge during hot weather are common

With 60 HGV deliveries per weekday, it was estimated it would take five years for the project to be completed – a figure disputed by some, who said it would take much longer than that.

Maybrook boss Peter O’Dowd applied last year to Lancashire County Council (LCC) for a “certificate of lawfulness” – essentially a means of obtaining a decision from the planning authority that a proposed use or works do not require planning permission.

Now residents have accused Mr O’Dowd of sidestepping the council by appealing to the Planning Inspectorate to gain the required certificate for work to go ahead. Local residents claim this is “going over the head” of Lancashire County Council and fear the application will not be properly scrutinised.

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They are also concerned that while lengthy legal wrangling takes place over what happens at the site, the quarry lake remains a fatal attraction for thrill-seeking youngsters.

Jamie LewinJamie Lewin
Jamie Lewin

Appley Bridge resident Penny Walker said: “Nothing has changed at East Quarry since the death of the youngster there last year - the fencing remains inadequate and hot weather will create another summer of chaos in Appley Bridge and the possibility of further tragedies.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "The owner of East Quarry has presented a proposal to infill the quarry with imported waste materials to just below the current water level, which they estimate would take around five years at a rate of 60 lorry loads per day.

"They are proposing to do this using permitted development rights which allows certain types of work to be carried out without the need to make a planning application and we would therefore have little control of the impacts caused by the work. They have asked the county council for a Certificate of Lawful Development to authorise this.

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"The owner of the quarry has recently appealed to the Planning Inspectorate on the grounds that the county council has not determined their application.

Craig CrostonCraig Croston
Craig Croston

"We will be outlining the county council's position as part of the appeals process – but we don’t believe the permitted development rights exist, and such a significant proposal should be properly scrutinised by the planning process."

The Maybrook Group were approached for comment.