Legal bid to fill in deadly water-filled quarry in Wigan with waste
The owner of a water-filled quarry near Wigan that has claimed the life of three teenagers is applying to have it filled in.
But fears have been raised that the potentially life-saving project could cause years of blight for the village where it is based if it were to become a landfill site.
Lancashire County Council has received an application for a certificate of lawfulness from Maybrook Investments of Appley Bridge to drain the nearby deadly lagoon and fill it with inert materials before turning it into a shallow lake.
Earlier this 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.
Since 1999, East Quarry at Dawber Delph, Appley Bridge, has also been the scene of tragedies involving two Wigan schoolboys: first Craig Croston and, more recently, Miracle Godson.
The quarry has long been a haunt for thrill-seeking youngsters in summer who will “tombstone” off the rocks.
And after each death, there have been renewed calls to do something about it.
The solution as far as Maybrook boss Peter O’Dowd is concerned is to eliminate the danger by filling the huge hole in.
Concerns that it would spoil the look of the place in the long-term have been answered by the lake idea.
But what happens in the meantime, should the certificate be granted, is also causing worries.
The application is to use one million cubic metres of inert waste to fill the crater using 60 HGV deliveries per weekday and says that it would take five years for the project to be completed.
But opponents say the maths is wrong and it would in fact take at least nine years, with all the associated noise and disruption, to finish the job. And they say that if it is going to take that long, then claims by the applicant that these works qualify as permitted development because they do not “materially alter the appearance of the site” are wrong.
Penny Walker, who has also opposed Maybrook’s attempts to resume landfill operations on Parbold Hill, said: “We are concerned that in their shock at the death of the third young swimmer and a desire to prevent further tragic accidents, the Appley Bridge community is vulnerable to exploitative plans masquerading as an answer to health and safety issues.
"What we have here is a deliberate attempt by a powerful landowner to circumvent planning regulations, and deprive the local community of both a voice and the protection of the law.
"This needs to go through a planning committee so that local people can have their say. There is a primary school very close to the site which would also be unduly affected.
"And this problem could more easily be solved if proper security fencing was put up in certain places around the perimeter so intruders can’t get in and put themselves in danger.”
Mr O’Dowd was contacted for a comment but at the time of publication he had not replied.