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Controversial new public road will allow Hanson Cement in Ketton to continue operating for 15 years

A new public road has opened that will allow Hanson Cement in Ketton to continue operating for another 15 years, preserving jobs and the local economy.

Running between Wytchley Warren Farm and Wytchley House, it swings north of the current Empingham Road, which will soon be permanently closed.

The new kilometre-long stretch, funded by the company to the tune of £7m, will allow access to new areas of the limestone quarry - a favourite spot for Jurassic fossil hunters across the UK.

Hanson Cement in Ketton
Hanson Cement in Ketton

Sinan Urhan, Ketton plant manager, said: “We are delighted to confirm that the new section of Empingham Road is open to the public. At present the old Empingham Road is still open and is awaiting sign off from Rutland County Council on the stopping-up order. Once this is complete the original road will be closed for public traffic.

“This substantial investment has allowed the expansion of our Grange Top quarry and will give Ketton cement works a further 15 years of operation under existing planning consent, securing highly skilled local jobs and the future of a site that makes a significant contribution to the local economy.”

It comes on the back of a protracted planning process that saw some residents and parish bodies object to the proposal on the grounds of increased traffic and road safety.

But without the road, the common consensus was that the company could be forced to close the site, which would have a huge impact on its 200-plus employees as well as the local economy.

There were no objections from the likes of Ketton Parish Council, North Luffenham Parish Council and Natural England. But Edith Weston Parish Council and Normanton Parish Meeting did lodge objections, along with a number of residents.

Planning documents made available through Rutland County Council show there were no official concerns about the impact on traffic or safety.

The decision notice in February 2018, approving the application, states: “The proposed development would not have an unacceptable or significant environmental impact and there’s no justification to refuse the development on highways or transport grounds.

The new Empingham Road route allowing access to more of the quarry at Hanson Cement in Ketton
The new Empingham Road route allowing access to more of the quarry at Hanson Cement in Ketton

“The socio-economic effects of the development are considered to be significant.”

The notice stresses that if the company was forced to wind down or close the site, “the impact would be felt locally and nationally as a consequence of the reduced cement supply, lost jobs and reduced contribution to the council business rates fund.”

One supervisor at the cement works wrote to the council in support of the scheme in 2017, saying: “A great amount of stress is put on everyone at the moment with the prospect of the company reaching its end in a relatively short period of time due to lack of resources.”

Council documents suggest Hanson would only have been able to continue operating for around three more years without the new road.

News the company has 15 more years at the site will also be welcomed by fossil hunters across the country.

The UK Association of Fossil Hunters, said to be the nation’s largest group, describe the quarry as a Jurassic goldmine that they are regularly allowed to explore, under supervision.

“Ketton Quarry displays the finest section of Jurassic aged rock strata currently available in inland Britain,” the organisation said in its support letter to the council. “The site has long been recognised for its geological palaeontological importance.

“Hanson is a proven, responsible operator with an excellent track record on environmental issues. The company clearly recognises the importance of the entire quarry site for scientific study as well as its prime business of limestone extraction.

What do you think of the new road? Let us know by emailing smeditor@stamfordmercury.co.uk

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