Wigan quarry owners appeal for support for plans to make it safer after teen's death

The owners of a Wigan quarry where a teenager died last weekend are urging youngsters to stay away, as they step up efforts to drain the water.

Tragedy struck for the third time in 23 years last weekend when 16-year-old Jamie Lewin died after getting into difficulty in the water at East Quarry, in Appley Bridge.

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Despite that, other teenagers were seen flocking to the site in the days that followed, hoping to cool down in the high summer temperatures.

East Quarry at Appley Bridge

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Quarry owner Maybrook Group has expressed its desire to drain the water for a number of years – but has faced objections from people living nearby.

A spokesman for Maybrook said: "The owners and staff at Maybrook are deeply saddened at the tragic death at East Quarry on July 9 and would like to pass their condolences to his family and friends.

“Our team have been maintaining the perimeter fencing and working with the emergency services to discourage young people from entering the site.

"Despite the tragedy, there are still groups of youths attempting to access the quarry. We appeal directly to them – please stay away and stay safe.

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Jamie Lewin

“As for the future of the quarry, the emergency access is very nearly complete and Maybrook have already prepared a certificate of lawfulness application to drain, fill and re-water the quarry.

“Given the delays and objections, rather than wait for the determination of a planning application for development of the site, which could take years, we decided in late 2021 that we would just remove the attraction and the danger it poses by reducing the depth of the water within the quarry to between 0.5 and one metre by raising the level of the quarry floor.

“The external appearance quarry would be the same, but it would be safe.”

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An application to drain water from the quarry by 70 per cent was submitted to the Environment Agency in 2020, which is waiting for more information before it can issue a water transfer licence.

It attracted staunch opposition from some residents, who fear removing the water will simply replace one problem at the quarry with others, with the dried-out site becoming a magnet for activities such as off-road biking.

A planning application for a new access road submitted by the company last year was denied by Lancashire County Council – putting any drainage on hold due to health and safety reasons as the current road is thought to be unsuitable.

Now the firm plans to submit a certificate of lawfulness application to drain, fill and re-water the quarry.

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Maybrook is urging people to back its proposals to prevent further tragedies at the quarry.

In 2015, 13-year-old Marsh Green schoolboy Miracle Godson died after getting into difficulty while swimming in the water, while 17-year-old Craig Croston, from Platt Bridge, died there in 1999.

Maybrook’s spokesman said: “Upon issuing of the certificate, Maybrook will be able to commence the drainage and works.

“In view of the clear and ongoing risk to life, Maybrook pleads with the council to issue the certificate immediately and without further delays or obstacles.

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“We would be grateful if interested parties could provide us a letter supporting the application."

Residents who are supportive of the plan are asked to email West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper at [email protected]

People are also encouraged to attend a parish council meeting at Mossy Lea Village Hall, in Wrightington, on Monday, July 18 at 7pm.