AS rows about suitable fracking sites continue, concerns are mounting that rural Essex will be blighted by a ‘super quarry’ if a new minerals strategy gets the go-ahead. Nearly 60% of the entire extraction 22.78 million tons by 2029-has been, controversially, allocated around four villages south of Brain-tree: Silver End, Bradwell, Kelvedon and Coggeshall. Essex County Council (ECC) has received 2,000 letters of objection.

Green Party councillor James Abbott says Braintree would accept its ‘fair share’, but opposes new sites added after the initial public consultation-misleadingly labelled ‘extensions’ that could add 200 hectares (495 acres) to Bradwell quarry, by the Second World War airfield at Rivenhall. He says quality farmland is at stake. ‘It’s a very deep excavation, everything goes-hedges, grasslands, habitats. And then there’s the traffic. What ECC hasn’t said is that it was offered three or four times as much gravel as it needed, so it did have a choice.’

An ECC spokesman comments: ‘Extraction can only occur where the mineral is found. Braintree has more significant mineral deposits than elsewhere and is a central location with good existing infrastructure.’ The county’s silica sand is reputedly worth 20 times more than some other aggregates. A public enquiry is due in October.

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