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'Big gun' joins quarry fight

PUBLISHED: 14:37 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 06 July 2010

A WORLD-renowned health researcher and campaigner into chronic illnesses associated with major sources of pollution is to set out the potential health hazards of siting a quarry at Fritton.

A WORLD-renowned health researcher and campaigner into chronic illnesses associated with major sources of pollution is to set out the potential health hazards of siting a quarry at Fritton.

Anti-quarry campaigners hope retired GP turned activist Dr Dick Van Steenis will help to deliver the final killer blow in their long-running battle against gravel and sand extraction at Waveney Forest.

The heavyweight researcher will meet with planners and see the site for himself before addressing villagers, MP Tony Wright and representatives of the Somerleyton Estate at St Olaves Village Hall on Tuesday.

Parish council chairman Keith Nunn said he hoped it was a turning point in the campaign to head off the quarry threat which would harm the environment and bring the pit too close to homes.

He said no other expert came even close to Dr Van Steenis who had a proven track record in exposing the health hazards of living near incinerators, power stations and quarries using his own asthma mapping technique which records the level of inhaler use in the surrounding area.

Mr Nunn said Dr Dick Van Steenis who trained as a GP in Australia and practised as a GP in the UK for 28 years was focussing on the proximity of the proposed quarry to homes, the dust and the method of extraction.

The action group, he added, had tracked him down from inquiry reports published on the internet. “It was quite wonderful,” he said. “Because he is so interested in what we are trying to do.”

“I do not want to give away all his speech but he has details of other developments further away that have been a disaster. He is a very clever man, there is nobody who can compete with him and that is wonderful for us.

“He is going to come to Norwich, meet the planners, inspect the site and formulate his ideas. He will do a detailed paper for us and he has some very interesting things to say about Fritton Lake's drinking water. Also he wants to address the residents and tell them what the problems might be.”

Mr Nunn added: “Villagers have been very concerned about the effect of dust and particulates on the health of nearby residents having heard warnings of asthma triggers and other bronchial troubles.

“Dr Van Steenis is an internationally known and respected researcher and campaigner into deaths and chronic illness surrounding major sources of pollution in this country and abroad and has a wonderful record of success at public inquiries.”

The woodland site at Fritton was among more than 100 being considered by Norfolk County Council as a potential quarry site, triggering a flurry of local campaigns, including one at nearby Haddiscoe. However just as the battle at Fritton appeared to be won a new application was submitted for a smaller site closer to homes with some access changes.

The public meeting is in St Olaves Village Hall on Tuesday at 7pm. Dr Van Steenis is not charging a professional fee and will be paid only expenses.

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