Croft and Huncote Quarry, or Croft Quarry as its more commonly known, is one of the biggest man-made holes in Europe and is well-known for the huge amounts of granite it produces each year; if you have granite worktops in your kitchen, they may well have been quarried at Croft.
Aggregate Industries, the owners of the quarry, have announced that they want to extend operations at Croft in order to extract a further 6.3 million tonnes of material, which could take as long as 20 years.
Whilst Croft has been used as a quarry for the past 2000 years, with evidence of this being apparent on the Fosse Way, serious quarrying only began around the mid 19th century. Since then, the site has been churning out huge amounts of granite year upon year. The obvious problem with this is that once the quarry reaches the end of its life, there will be one gigantic pothole to fill in.
The proposed solution at Croft Quarry
In a recent document sent to Leicestershire County Council by the company, it mentions how it would like to restore the area once all the extractions have finished. It proposes to import around 22 million cubic metres of ‘inert material’ to fill in the enormous hole, which could average up to three-quarters of a million cubic metres per year. The firm says that some of this may be made up of London’s waste, with much more of it coming from the construction debris from the HS2 (High Speed 2) rail project which terminates in the heart of London.
What is inert waste?
In case you’re wondering what this vague term actually means, inert waste is waste which is not chemically or biologically reactive and also won’t decompose; stuff like concrete, rubble and sand for example. As it’s not considered hazardous, it attracts a lower disposal fee compared to biodegradable waste or hazardous waste and won’t give off harmful residues hundreds of years later. As far as landfill waste is concerned, it’s largely considered to be less damaging to the environment.
The end of the quarry’s life
Whilst Aggregate Industries estimate that work at Croft Quarry will end by 2052, they want to press ahead with the final stage of extraction as early as 2020 if they get planning permission to do so. Once complete, it’ll be time to plug the huge hole.
One of the reasons the quarry is so successful is due to the fact it has excellent road and rail links to the rest of the country and as a result, Croft may well be filling up with debris from all around the country if the proposal takes off. It also worth mentioning that Croft Quarry is the closest source of hard rock to London and the South-East of England.
There are, of course, concerns about the impact that such a scheme would have on the local environment, with questions being raised about how dumping such a huge amount of waste in one place will impact the local wildlife and the surrounding area in general. There are also concerns about the possible risk of polluting nearby water sources and Green party activists have already said that they will be fighting the proposed scheme.