Mansfield District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council will be responsible for the decapitation of Mansfield’s best preserved and treasured area of natural beauty and historical importance.
Quarry Lane Nature Reserve is used by countless members of the community and public to enjoy nature, to walk, run and cycle for health and to exercise their pets. Casual fishermen and children enjoy casting a line in the mill pond. Workers from the area use the reserve to relax and enjoy their precious breaks away from work.
Probably, more importantly, all the local primary schools use the area for formal and informal environmental, wildlife and historical educational sessions, throughout the year. In 2016/2017 Maun Conservation Group alone was involved with the schools and more than 700 children on-site.
The Quarry Lane area of the River Maun has great historical interest to the Mansfield area, numerous mills were built and operated in this small area, using the water to power them. Railways crossed over the river using a number of viaducts, of which only one now remains. The bridge into the quarry from Quarry Lane is a grade two listed structure.
The River Maun in this area has, over recent times, improved in water quality to the extent that it has a very healthy fish stock which is enjoyed by casual fishermen in the mill pond. It has diverse wildlife and we are very lucky to have a very healthy and growing population of the rare and protected water vole.
Outline planning permission has been applied for to build 200 houses in Gregory Quarry. The building of a new housing estate, in this unused area, is probably not a bad idea. I understand that this development is, to a degree, supported by the mayor and some district councillors. What benefits they gain or see from this, when a huge number of houses are designated to be built in Mansfield, is hard to understand.
The issue though, is not the housing that is to be built but the proposed access for construction traffic and the building of a new road bridge which will carve through the centre of the nature reserve. During construction, I feel it could contaminate the river, and both during and post construction make the nature reserve a far less safe area to pass through and connect through.
These elected individuals and councillors and the council officials usually hide behind planning rules and procedures when they finally give permission for unpopular planning applications. They normally claim that they have to ‘give in’ because the cost of going to appeal or even judicial review is too much for the public purse when the planning application is likely to be finally approved anyway.
The planning application, using the proposed access, should be refused for many of the reasons above, and many others, through the normal process. Other accesses could be found without coming off Quarry Lane, there are other options.
But this access route is not dependent on planning applications, it is only dependent on both the district council and the county council, separately, selling their land or allowing the access to be built on and through their land.
These people, elected individuals, are accountable to the electorate. I am sure that if they sell the land or allow its use, the people of Mansfield will remember when the next elections come along. They will remember who cut our nature reserve in half and who caused the contamination of the river and its habitats.
The decapitation of our nature reserve will only be the responsibility of our elected representatives.