Controversial quarry draining plan remains at standstill over information for licence bid

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has been writing to the authorities about the proposals for East Quarry in Appley Bridge.
East Quarry in Appley BridgeEast Quarry in Appley Bridge
East Quarry in Appley Bridge

She discovered that, as was the case several months ago, the Environment Agency (EA) is still waiting on Maybrook Investments, whose director is site owner Peter O’Dowd, to provide some of the details required for it to consider an abstraction licence.

The idea of draining the quarry has generated considerable local debate, with some people speaking up in favour due to problems with trespassing and the deaths and serious injuries that have occurred over the years there.

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However, a group of residents is also implacably opposed to the proposal, saying removing the water risked merely swapping one problem for a list of long-term issues and was not the solution to the issues.

Rosie Cooper MPRosie Cooper MP
Rosie Cooper MP

Ms Cooper said: “Another summer of heavy use of the quarry for recreation has occurred with residents understandably concerned about people trespassing into the quarry and using it as a swimming area where there has been injury and death in the past.

“I have been corresponding with Lancashire Constabulary, West Lancashire Borough Council and the quarry owners Maybrook Developments seeking assurances that all has been done to discourage use of the quarry for swimming and secure the site from trespassing. 

“While I understand that locally there are differing views about how the future of the Quarry should be handled, I have been pursuing the Environment Agency, Wigan Council and Maybrook to obtain more information about the disputed draining of the quarry. 

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“I understand that the agencies now appear to be united in advising Maybrook that once they provide the required information to the EA, they can determine the existing application for an abstraction licence.”

Wigan Council officers have advised Mr O’Dowd to discharge the water from the quarry into the nearby manhole and not the existing pipe, so that the risk of flooding to the properties on Millbank is reduced.

Ms Cooper says she will be seeking far more detailed information about this.

In order to do this an abstraction licence from the EA is required and the organisation has told Ms Cooper it still does not have all the details it needs to progress the application.

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Mr O’Dowd has told the press his main concern is getting the quarry filled with inert materials to reduce the risks people are taking by visiting the site and swimming in hot weather.

On occasions this has led to tragedy, with 13-year-old Marsh Green schoolboy Miracle Godson dying in 2015 after getting into difficulties in the water and 17-year-old Craig Croston drowning while swimming in the quarry in 1999.

However, residents have expressed considerable opposition to the long-term plan to apply for planning permission to build houses in the quarry.

They say this would leave those living nearby facing years of noise and disruption through the construction process and the steep sides of the quarry would be a death trap.