RESIDENTS say they would not have bought homes if they had known about a huge gravel extraction project which will last 14 years.

The Arborfields sand and gravel extraction project in Wokingham is due to see a company mine 350,000 tonnes every 12 months during a 14-year period.

CEMEX Investments Limited, which has a number of operations within the UK and reported a loss of £738million in 2016 and £180million in 2015, could be set to undertake the operation.

CEMEX says that despite the overall losses within the company, UK operations are operating smoothly. But residents are unhappy with the proposed plans.

A CEMEX spokesperson said: "The accounts that have been accessed are those of a holding company and do not reflect the operating profit of the operations of CEMEX in the UK, which is in profit. 

According to Swallowfield Parish Council, discussions on this sizeable project have been ongoing since 2004, but only came into the public domain in Spring 2017.

Residents say they were not made aware of the project throughout these years and would have never considered living in the Arborfield area if they had known.

One, Alan Marvin, said: “This quarrying activity will involve heavy plant, noisy conveyors and heavy vehicles passing through the area for 14 years.

“The council [Wokingham] has cause enough problems. What was once one of the best places to live in England is now now something not dissimilar to a building site.

“This whole plan is horrific.”

Wokingham Borough Council says that a company’s financial position is not considered when approving a planning application and has offered residents a chance to express their views about the application.

Councillor Simon Weeks, executive member for planning and enforcement said: “We understand the concerns raised by residents, but the commercial viability of any applicant cannot be considered in a planning application.

“However, the use of the land is a planning matter and all public feedback is fully assessed as part of the planning application process.”

Residents are worried that if CEMEX was unable to complete the work, the 190-hectacre site could be ‘an abandoned mine.’

CEMEX says it has a a four-year restoration plan at the end of the 14 years.

A CEMEX spokesman added: “Planning permission has not yet been granted on the site however, in the unlikely event that we defaulted on the restoration this would be covered by our Mineral Products Association restoration bond which ensures the restoration of land that is excavated.”