Plans to turn Dean quarry into super quarry to provide millions of tonnes of armour rock for the Swansea Bay “Tidal Lagoon” project came a step closer when West Cornwall Area Planning Committee granted permission for the quarry company Shire Oak Quarries to build various buildings at the site, writes David Barnicoat.

Round one may be over but the St Keverne area residents are deeply entrenched for a long, hard environmental battle with Shire Oak.

The Lizard peninsula campaign group Community Against Dean Super Quarry claim the plans will “forever change” the local area, cause “huge harm to the tourism industry” and subject residents to noise and air pollution from blasting operations.

Commenting on the group Facebook page, one objector, David Ivan White, said: “Dean Quarry does raise fundamental questions on ownership and rights of activities that, though legal, do not fit into any modern concept of responsibility. Nobody would licence a new Dean Quarry today - just unthinkable on such a delicate stretch of coastline. These smart investors have seen an opportunity, jumped in to benefit from historical blindness to environmental issues.”

The campaign group is highlighting the threat to health, the environment and the fishing industry if the rest of the scheme wins approval with planners and the Marine Management Organisation.

The proposed new jetties and breakwater are within the newly created Manacles Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). The Manacles is amongst other things a haven for a bass fishery.

Natural England said that: “This site has been extensively studied and is known to cover an area that is rich in marine biodiversity. The rocky outcrops have been the site of many shipwrecks, which over time have been colonised by some of the species found in this area. The seabed varies extensively throughout the site and includes sedimentary habitats, vertical rock faces and rocky reefs that support a number of highly sensitive features.”

The infamous existing quarry berth, which closed in 2008, was well known to the coaster masters as one of the UK’s most challenging berths in poor weather and strong tides.

Last year Shire Oak acquired the quarry, which has an existing consent to operate until 2035. Subject to approval, the intention is to ship armour rock out by sea via two new jetties protected by a breakwater, which runs 200 metres in a south easterly direction from the end of the existing jetty before heading in a north easterly direction for 220 metres. Either ships or barges will be used to transport the stone.

A spokesperson for Shire Oak Quarries said: “Our intention is to take all rock out by sea. The quarry could provide between 1.9 million tonnes and 3.1 million tonnes of rock to Swansea Bay, with minimal impact to local people and to nature. A single barge equates to 300 lorry loads of rock. On average, two to three barges would be loaded each week.

“Shipping the rock presents the shortest, safest and quickest option. Independent and expert analysis has shown that this approach would ensure that an operational Dean Quarry is a good neighbour to the local community and a good neighbour to the natural environment.”

The Dean site is consented to quarry 6.3 million tonnes of high-density gabbro. Gabbro is an ideal type of rock for the tidal lagoon, developed by sister company Tidal Lagoon Power.

Approximately five million tonnes of rock is needed to complete the construction of the tidal lagoon. Dean Quarry will be a major source of rock for the project, supplying what it can in the 32 months available.

The quarry is expected to create between 40 and 50 jobs and interviews have already been conducted for 12 new posts. The project will generate income for the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners as Dean is just inside the compulsory pilotage area line which runs from Dodman Pt to the Black Head. It is understood that pilots have been briefed on the project.

Mark Shorrock, chief executive of both Shire Oak Energy and Tidal Lagoon Power told St Keverne residents, the only alternative to the proposed breakwater and loading port was to transport the stone through the quaint village by using 200 lorries each week. Anyone with a grain of intelligence will realise that this is not a financially viable option for Shire Oak when barges can transport 10,000 - 20,000 tonnes of rock at a time.

When the site was last operating about 200,000 tonnes a year were quarried. Mr Shorrock is hoping to extract up to 1.2 million tonnes a year over the next three years to supply Swansea and already has planning permission to do so.

Shire Oak Quarries Limited, has appointed Jonathan Kearsley as director for stakeholder relations in what is the first local appointment for the quarry near St Keverne.

Jonathan, who hails from Coverack, has a background in renewable energy and sustainable development in Cornwall and has been working with the project since January.

Commenting on his appointment, Jonathan said: “As someone who lives locally and already knows the project, my role is to work closely with the community to keep them fully informed and address any concerns they may have.

“The quarry has been dormant for several years so it’s understandable that people have questions about how it will operate and whether it will impact on them. I want to make a fresh start. We want to be a good neighbour and my role is to help ensure that happens now and in the future.”

Dean Quarry could provide rock for future UK tidal lagoons. This would require further planning permission but there are no plans to quarry beyond the existing boundary as there are ample reserves within the quarry’s current footprint.”

Quarrying first began at Dean towards the end of the last century and although little stone was used locally for road construction, there is evidence that in the early days sailing ships were loaded with stone cargoes for the more distant markets.

The quarry was worked until the Great War but there was little activity from then until the end of the Second World War. LG Tom and Co started quarrying in 1946 with the prime objective of shipping stone to the London market.