about the impact of quarrying are hardly new. Complaints about
quarrying activities were voiced as far back as the 1890s. The
issues of concern haven't changed over time – visual intrusion,
damage to landscapes, traffic, smoke, noise, dust, damage to caves,
loss of land, and a deterioration in water quality.
Mining and quarrying have taken place on Mendip for well over
2000 years. Quarrying is very much part of the local heritage but
most people in the area are only too well aware of the potentially
negative impact of quarrying. However the industry has undergone
tremendous changes especially over the last three decades and has
sought to mitigate the worst impacts on the local community, but
still fulfill the UK's demand for stone products.
A significant change has
been the reduction in the number of operating quarries, coupled
by a significant rise in the average output. In 1898 at least 54
working quarries were recorded in the area. Of these, twelve were
operated by local Councils mainly for road repairs. Despite rationalisation
in the 1930s, there were still 44 quarries active in 1948. By 1971
this had fallen to about 24 and had halved again by 1984 and currently
(2006) only ten quarries are operational, of which three (two at
Doulting) are only winning stone on an extremely limited basis.
The two largest of these, Whatley and Torr
Works, account for between two thirds and three quarters of
the production capacity of the area and are as big as any others