PLANS to extend a stone quarry at Shap have raised fears over the impact on on the water table, wildlife and farming.

The concerns over Hardendale quarry were expressed during a public meeting attended by around 50 people packed the village's Green Room.

Shap Parish Council chairman Jean Jackson said that in 2008 Corus had applied to extract below the water table and this had met with a lot of opposition. Tata had now made a re-submission, which reawakened the concerns.

Tata had declined to be formally represented but had written to say any individuals with concerns could go to discuss these with them at the works.

A good number of Tata employees who live in Shap were present as were members of Shap Parish Council. Representations were made by those opposed to the plans to quarry below the water table.

Major concerns included damage to natural water sources and the impact this would have on wildlife and the viability of local farming businesses, potential for flooding, since the water rebound there has been significant water logging and sink holes have appeared as far from the quarry as Reagill and Sleagill.

At present the water level is 305 metres above sea level, but if quarrying did re-commence extracting a further 30 metres of stone, the rebound level would be 309-314 meters, and these higher levels would be likely to cause flooding.

Janet Wood from Waters Farm, where her husband Edward's family have farmed since 1950, said that they had lived with the quarry since it began, and there had been ongoing problems.

Their main concern was the irreversible damage to water sources and springs. According to the Tata report there are 244 sources of water identified but only 43 are listed as potential receptors, Mrs Wood wondered whether Tata had a list of all those discounted as not significant.

John Greig described structural damage to his farm at Hardendale and other dwellings in the hamlet caused by blasting, and expressed concerns about being able to continue farming if further quarrying was allowed and the effects of vertical blasting causing further damage to buildings and wall.

Other concerns included weaknesses in the model used to project possible effects, lack of mitigation, inadequacy of a restoration bond, ineffective consultation by Tata.

Quarrying below the water table could cause further irreparable damage to the environment only to gain a limited resource - it has been shown that Tata can continue to operate by bringing in limestone from elsewhere if this continues then local jobs would not be at risk.

John Owen had visited several farmers who had written statements against the application, and spoke about the cattle and sheep who graze the area where in the region of 80 springs and becks provide water for them.

During the dewatering many water sources dried up including Black Dub, source of the Lyvennet and Kings Well; these are all now flowing strongly and are crystal clear, even during last summer's hot weather. Two farms and five residences rely on these sources for all their water requirements.

Jenny Greig displayed many photos illustrating the day to day problems caused by the quarrying operation that they and others have had to deal with, many still ongoing. Pictures showed water sources and springs when they had dried up due to quarrying and running full since quarrying ceased and the water levels had been allowed to rebound.

Mrs Jackson said that following re-instatement of the land at Hardendale, the water runs straight off the hill, this restoration of the Nab is not satisfactory. The fencing around the quarry is not maintained to make it stock proof and management of the whole site was described as appalling.

The misery of living next the A6 where there was a constant passage of quarry wagons between Shap Beck and Hardendale on a daily basis with all the noise and dust was highlighted.

On display were 17 statements collected from local farmers demonstrating the potential impact that quarrying would have on the springs and water courses on their land and the consequences for private water supplies and livestock watering. There was also a petition with 380 names - all against the application.