Residents are protesting about a stone supply firm’s plans for its site on the edge of a Honley beauty spot.
Abacus Stone Sales Ltd has applied to Kirklees Council to relax several conditions placed on its operations at Hagg Wood – a large part of which it owns.
The requested changes include allowing the firm to fell a number of trees to create a route from the main yard to a storage area; increase the height at which stone can be stored; remove an area of bedrock to improve vehicle access; sell products on site; and extend operations to seven days a week.
Objectors’ website – Protect Hagg Wood – claimed Abacus has breached a number of the conditions, including working at weekends, stockpiling stone above the maximum height permitted from the quarry floor and retailing on site. They also highlighted the fact that Abacus was fined thousands of pounds by magistrates for felling a tree at Hagg Wood and another at a site in Berry Brow.
Steve Molloy, a Scout leader who leads outdoor activities at Hagg Wood, said residents were concerned about noise levels if Abacus was allowed to operate at weekends and being given “wider parameters” for its operations, having allegedly breached some of the conditions it wants to be relaxed.
Hagg Wood, an ancient woodland and Scheduled Ancient Monument, is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to protected species including badgers and bats. It has been designated in the draft Kirklees Local Plan as having “substantial value for wildlife” and “an important amenity value to recreational users and the treescape of the Woodhead Road”.
In a submission to Kirklees, architects acting for Abacus said extended opening times were needed to meet demand for the firm’s building products, but that Sunday work would be limited to maintaining machinery, clearing and tidying and general site maintenance.
Tree-felling was needed to provide a previously-approved route from the main yard on site to a storage area. It argued that the limit on the height stone could be stockpiled was “not appropriate.”
Abacus director Allan Pogson said he was “disappointed” by the protests, saying that while the wood was private, the company had never stopped people enjoying it.
“We started there 10 years ago and we now employ 22 people on two sites,” he said. “We are not asking to cut down half an acre of woodland to make a bigger yard. We want to make sure everything is correct.”