Decision on plan to increase HGV journeys from Plymouth mine

A controversial planning application to increase HGV movements from Plymouth's tungsten and tin mine from 50 to 200 per day has been withdrawn. New operator Tungsten West Plc, which is planning to restart production at the Plympton site, has said the decision has been made after listening to feedback from the local community. Instead, it says that when production has resumed at the site, it will look to operate within HGV movements a day.

The AIM-listed company put operations on hold in April 2022 after it suffered from "significant and rapid" inflation for key resources including steel, cement, explosives, power and diesel, mainly due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Tungsten West, which bought Hemerdon mine out of receivership for GBP2.8m in 2019 when previous owner Wolf Minerals went into liquidation, announced in the summer that production will restart in 2023, and that a new plan has been drawn up which will see costs of doing so at the Hemerdon mine shaved by up to GBP28m. Read more: Plymouth City Council to start charging for garden waste

The mine already has planning permission, a pre-stripped open pit and has benefited from significant infrastructure and spending by previous operator Wolf Minerals. Under Tungsten West's ownership, a complete refurbishment and upgrade of the processing plant has been undertaken with large sections now complete. As part of its plans, it had been looking to increase the number of HGVs coming in and out of the site each day.

Vast opposition was received from many local residents. Details of the application being withdrawn have been announced by Cllr Ian Poyser, Green Party councillor for Plympton Chaddlewood. On Facebook, he has shared a copy of a letter he has received from Tungsten West.

Aggregates are produced at Tungsten West's Hemerdon mine in Plymouth

The letter states: "I am writing to formally announce that we have decided to withdraw our planning application to increase HGV movements from the mine from 50 to 200 per day after overwhelming feedback from local people objecting to the plans.

It has taken time to consider all feedback and gather the information needed to make an informed decision, and we'd like to thank communities for their patience and willingness to share their views with us, which have ultimately led to this decision. "We hope this demonstrates to people living in the communities surrounding the mine, as well as local elected officials, that we are serious about being a listening organisation and a good neighbour. Since these plans were put in motion, there have been significant changes at the mine, and the new executive team believes it is incredibly important to develop a project that, as much as possible and practical, works in harmony with the surrounding communities, not in opposition to them.

Ian Poyser Green Party wins Chaddlewood ward./ppPlymouth Local Elections 2022 from the Plymouth Life Centre, Plymouth. May 05, 2022. Picture: Matt Gilley/PlymouthLive.Ian Poyser Green Party wins Chaddlewood ward.

Plymouth Local Elections 2022 from the Plymouth Life Centre, Plymouth. May 05, 2022. Picture: Matt Gilley/PlymouthLive.

"The executive team has shared this view with members of the Tungsten West Board, who wholeheartedly support the decision to withdraw the application at this stage.

As a new company, we've learned a lot from this experience - the strength of feeling from local people about the volume of traffic and times of movements was severely underestimated, but we've heard you, we've listened and we're taking action. "We still believe that selling our secondary aggregates is the right thing to do, not only because it makes good business sense to minimise waste and maximise income streams, it will also benefit the environment, as secondary aggregates produce approximately 25 per cent of the carbon footprint of primary aggregates. However, we are not prepared to develop a secondary aggregates business in a way that costs us the relationships we are trying to build with the local and wider community.

Inside the tungsten mine near Sparkwell VillageInside the tungsten mine near Sparkwell Village

"We are focusing our efforts on restarting tungsten and tin mining at Hemerdon, so that we can provide critical metals the world needs, whilst creating jobs, supporting the local community and driving investment in the surrounding areas of Plymouth and Devon.

In the short-term, we will halt the sale of secondary aggregates. Get the best stories about the things you love most curated by us and delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you love here

"Once we are in production, we will look to work within the HGV movement limits of 50 per day specified in our existing planning permission as our starting position. We hope we will have the support of local elected officials and surrounding communities in our efforts to restart the Hemerdon Mine during 2023, so that we can create jobs and local prosperity through the supply chain." The news has been greeted with a relieved reaction from location residents.

One person said: "Great news! Well done everyone." Another added: "Amazing result.

Although I hope the last part doesn't mean a restart of applications in 2023."

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