The owner of a quarry says efforts to drain its water have been thwarted by the refusal of planning permission for a new access road.

Lancashire County Council has refused an application for the new ramp which would have allowed trucks and emergency vehicles access to East Quarry in Appley Bridge.

The existing access road is said to be considered unsafe under Control of Major Accident and Hazard (COMAH) Regulations and Peter O’Dowd, director of the quarry’s owner Maybrook Investments, says the water removal cannot take place unless it is upgraded.

Rejecting the application, the county council argued the number of HGV trips needed would be harmful to residents and that insufficient evidence was given about the potential impact on bats at the site.

The company now plans to appeal the decision in order to press ahead with the drainage plan and one day redevelop the site.

Two teenagers have died in the quarry’s dangerous water but despite numerous and repeated safety warnings it continues to be a hotspot for trespassing and anti-social behaviour. A recent heatwave has seen another onslaught of visitors to the site, with youths and adults climbing over fences and through people’s gardens to access the water which lies on private property.

Earlier, this year, an abstraction licence was granted by the Environment Agency to allow around 75% of the water to be pumped out of the quarry and discharged into the Calico Brook, which runs directly to the east of the quarry.

However, with planning permission for the access ramp refused, Maybrook says health and safety regulations mean it is unable to carry out that work, which would likely take around 12 weeks. However, the company says it remains determined to remove the water and ensure the safety of the site.

Mr O’Dowd said: “We remain committed to doing everything that we can to accelerate the draining of the quarry. By removing the water we eliminate both the risk to life and the attractiveness of the area to the crowds of young people that have been breaking into the site. In the meantime we will continue to maintain the perimeter fencing and work with the police in whatever way we can.”

Long-term, the company hopes to fill the quarry and redevelop the space, as well as West Quarry, for a mixture of residential and community use. Proposals presented to Wrightington Parish Council in 2019 remain the ultimate ambition and would include a housing estate, car park for the nearby train station, a community centre and public greenspace.

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