RESIDENTS in Purbeck have been given their chance to have their say on new plans to expand a mineral extraction site in the district.

The region is already well-known for its ball clay, sand and gravel extraction, as well as being famous for Purbeck Stone.

Under proposals submitted earlier this month, Imerys Minerals have launched a bid to expand quarry operations at Trigon Hill near Wareham.

Under the plans, Imerys are applying for planning permission for Western Extension to develop land for the extraction of ball clay and ancillary operations.

This would result in an area of approximately 20 hectares of land being designated for quarry use.

Imerys would undertake as a phased extraction over an eight-phase operation, with each phase lasting around eighteen months.

Output from Trigon Hill currently accounts for approximately 50 per cent of the total ball clay production from Dorset and the company says that the plans were vital in order to continue being a competitor in the industry.

In a statement, Imerys Minerals, added: “Ball clay is recognised as a mineral of national importance in the UK, of high export value and comparatively rare occurrence, not only in Britain but also in the world.

“The industry has faced severe competition from overseas producers in the last years and needs to maintain the quality level and the large range of raw materials in order to meet the requirements of the different markets it serves.

“Our operations in the Wareham area are long established with the site being a sustainable source of mineral for use both locally and to the wider area of Dorset.”

Representations can be made online or in writing to County Hall in Dorchester.

The plans will be discussed by Dorset County Council in June, before a final decision is made.