On 23 March, local MP Sammy Wilson visited Lafarge Tarmac’s old cement plant and quarry site in Magheramorne, Larne, Northern Ireland. Limestone extraction activities at the 73 hectare quarry ended in 1980, and Lafarge Tarmac has since drawn up plans to redevelop the site into an eco-village with a mountain biking centre. The cycling centre was the principal focus of Sammy Wilson’s visit to the site.
“In September 2009, we obtained outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the whole cement works, including the quarry. This permission included ‘in-principle’ approval for a new eco-friendly village alongside Larne Lough and a major cycling centre mainly in the quarry, but it did not involve us having to prepare detailed designs or layouts,” explained Lloyd McInally, Lafarge Tarmac Regeneration Manager. “The recession really impacted on our plans for the site, and not too much has happened since we received the outline planning permission. But one thing we have been working on is the detailed design of the cycling centre. Our plans, which we have submitted for detailed planning approval, show seven downhill trails and an extensive cross-country trail running around the edge of the quarry and then around the rest of the site. In total, over ten miles of trails are planned. We will of course be consulting with all stakeholders and will seek a meeting with the Chief Executive of the new Mid and East Antrim Council and the Tourist Board in the near future.”
At present, the quarry comprises high cliff faces and large spoil heaps with surplus quarrying material dating back to the time when it was an active site. According to McInally, the height of some of the cliff faces would have to be reduced and the spoil heaps made more stable in order to build the cycling centre. Under the current plans, more than 800 000 m3 of spoil would need to be moved, almost all of which would be re-used within the site. McInally adds: “To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools or about two-thirds of the internal volume of the new Wembley Stadium.”
Commenting on the latest plans, Mr Wilson noted the opportunities they opened up for the region, with an estimated 150 000 visitors/year to the cycling centre, with the potential to inject nearly £5 million into the area in terms of visitor spending. However, he added that construction of the centre was likely to be at least partially dependent on public sector support. “There are no grants available at the moment for this kind of project, but hopefully one day there will be. By preparing detailed plans for the cycling centre and the restoration work that will be necessary beforehand, and by hopefully gaining detailed planning permission for these in the near future, there will be a ‘ready-to-go’ scheme. This is always much more attractive to potential funders. It is to Lafarge Tarmac’s credit that they have put the time and money into preparing these plans in these circumstances.”
Adapted from press release by Louise Fordham
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/europe-cis/26032015/local-mp-visits-old-lafarge-tarmac-quarry-to-discuss-plans-for-a-cycling-centre-586/