Click the questions below to get the answer to some of the most frequently asked questions about the proposed Airfield Quarry.

Why are you proposing to develop a quarry here?

We can only source sand and gravel from specific areas and a significant deposit is located in and around the Cotswold Water Park. The local County Councils identify the need for construction materials in the region and allocate specific sites to meet that need. Airfield Quarry is an allocated site in the adopted Gloucestershire Mineral Plan.

How long will the quarry be a working site?

Mineral extraction will take approximately 13 years to complete after the initial site works to establish new access, plant site, offices and silt management for Phase 1 have been completed. Restoration will take approximately 25 years starting when Phase 1 extraction is approximately 50% complete. Overall life of the development is estimated to be 26.5 years.

How will the quarry affect local traffic?

A new access is proposed onto the C124, an identified Local Lorry Route, and the majority of traffic will travel west directly onto the A419, a Strategic Route.
When the extraction and restoration works are operating together HGVs are estimated to be 115 loads per weekday. When the restoration is the only operation at the site HGVs are estimated at 36 loads per weekday.
Airfield Quarry HGVs will be relocating from nearby existing Hills’ quarries as these sites near the end of their operational life. As a result, increases on the C124 will be lower than modelled in the Transport Assessment which has included those existing HGV movements as a worst case scenario.
Additionally, during the life of Airfield Quarry other local mineral operations using the C124 and A419 will be ceasing operations with a corresponding drop in HGV traffic.

How do you consider noise?

The Government has set out specific guidance on noise associated with mineral extraction and restoration and that is the basis for the noise assessment. The assessment builds a computer model of noise levels through the full operation from soil stripping, bund building, mineral extraction and restoration. The operation of the plant site and vehicles moving around the site are also factored in.
The residences which were considered to represent the sensitive locations were agreed with the local Environmental Health officer at Cotswold District Council and background noise measurements taken.
The mineral extraction at Airfield Quarry will use conveyors to take mineral from the working area back to the plant site. Conveyors are considerably less noisy than using dump trucks. The noise model confirms where any mitigation measures are needed and these are being incorporated into the overall design. As well as the distance to properties, mitigation will include the positioning of the grassed soil bunds to act as a noise barrier where needed temporarily.
A site specific noise management plan will form part of the planning submission and operation of the quarry.

How will you manage dust at the quarry?

Sensitive receptors have been identified using information in the responses from Gloucestershire County Council, together with current guidance and local knowledge of the area. As well as residences, it also includes ecologically important sites.
Dust from all aspects of the operations on site is also considered. Mitigation measures include the use of conveyors, which cause much less dust to arise than dump trucks moving around site as well as the naturally damp nature of a sand and gravel quarry. The processing of the material also involves water. The assessment concludes that, with measures in place, dust can be adequately controlled.
A site specific dust management plan (DMP) will form part of the application which includes operational measures such as site speed limits, sheeting vehicles, water sprays on stockpiles and dust monitoring measures.

Have you considered the local water environment including flooding and other quarries?

The assessment has looked at groundwater, surface water and the potential for flooding both during and after the operational life of the quarry. The likelihood of flooding and its extent has informed the design of the working site, for instance the location of offices and positioning of soil storage bunds. The restoration incorporates attenuation basins and water discharge controls, to prevent increase in rates of rainfall runoff from the site, in accordance with UK guidance. Due regard was given to the other quarry workings in the area in arriving at our proposals.
Additionally, land levels within flood zones are set to a lower level than currently, to increase flood storage capacity in the event of high rainfall.

Will wildlife, ecology and nature be impacted?

Most of the site currently comprises arable fields, which offer limited opportunity for diverse habitats. The restoration proposed will introduce a wide range of new habitats giving a substantial gain to the wider environment.
Extensive field work has been ongoing, looking at the land in terms of both flora and fauna, and an arboriculture survey has been carried out. Working practices are designed to avoid impacts to wildlife e.g. soil stripping or removal of vegetation at appropriate times of the year.
Site restoration will improve the diversity of habitats with wildlife corridors forming linkages to surrounding habitats. The proposals would see new areas of lowland meadow with deciduous woodland, and reed marsh progressing to wet woodland.
Ecological monitoring will form part of the post restoration work ensuring habitats are managed appropriately.

What about existing archaeology on the site?

Substantial background information has already been collected with reviews of existing information sources, geophysical investigations and extensive field evaluation work.
It is well documented that this area is likely to have evidence of Roman occupation. The assessment work confirms this and also identifies potential for a range of other finds but nothing has been identified that is considered so significant to prevent mineral extraction.
The archaeology associated with mineral extraction across the Cotswold Water Park has provided considerable insight into the archaeological history of that area and this land has the same potential. The exact measures will be agreed with the County Archaeologist but it is expected that an archaeologist will be on site as soil stripping takes place and should anything of significance be found, a specific further investigation undertaken.

Will the memory of the airfield be retained?

The World War II history of the airfield has also been part of the considerations and a number of proposals are being made to recognise that land use.
These include the addition of new permissive paths providing links to the existing war memorial, along with interpretation boards.  Avenues of trees will define the former airfield runways and the existing ends of all three airfield runways will be retained.

How will the quarry be restored?

Restoration has been the subject of lengthy discussion with the Ministry of Defence to ensure the scheme will pose no additional risk of bird strike to RAF Fairford. In this location it was not acceptable to have open bodies of water and this has formed the proposals incorporating agriculture’s “best and most versatile land” with permanent pasture, lowland meadow, woodlands, wet woodlands, and reed marsh progressing to wet woodlands.
In order to achieve this, inert materials will be imported and follow the mineral extraction as closely as possible to return the land to the landform shown in the restoration plan. As well as satisfying planning requirements, this part of the operation will be subject to control by the Environment Agency who look specifically at any risk of pollution and require all appropriate measures to be in place.
Hills has restored many quarries across the Cotswold Water Park as well as others elsewhere using imported inert materials and has substantial experience of the standards expected of them by the regulators.
After each area of the site has been restored to its final levels, extensive seeding and planting of new hedges and trees will take place. A period of management will follow to ensure the various habitats and plantings flourish. Even though there is no large open water in the restoration proposals, the bird management proposals that will be employed during the operational phases, will be updated and deployed on the land when it is returned to agriculture.

What other measures have been taken to reduce any impact from the development?

Hills HGVs and mobile plant, including loading shovels and excavators, operate to the latest Euro 6 European standards in terms of emissions.
Covered conveyors, in place of dump trucks, will transport the sand and gravel from the extraction area to the processing plant to minimises noise, dust and reduce both carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels. The processing plant, conveyors and water pumps will all be electrically driven except in areas where there is no access to electrical power. Use of specialist vehicle management software for real-time tracking of vehicles will reduce wasted journeys and ensure efficient routing for HGVs. Green energy is being considered as an alternative energy source for the plant site and offices.

Let’s talk about quarrying

Watch this video where we explain the need for quarrying and show how a typical quarry works, from the acquisition of land, the development of a site and its final restoration.