TARMAC'S plan to extend the life of Swinden Quarry, at Cracoe, and shut down operations in Threshfield has been met with approval.

The benefits could include fewer lorry movements and the creation of a nature reserve at Threshfield, 35 years before its current licence runs out.

A public exhibition outlining the plans was held at Cracoe Village Hall on Saturday.

Ward councillor for Barden Fell, Chris Knowles-Fitton, described the proposal as a "win-win situation".

He has been involved with the liaison group at Swinden and said he had suggested the idea of extending the life of the Cracoe and closing operations at Threshfield Quarry.

Coun Knowles-Fitton said: "I think it's brilliant. My view would be that those who live in Cracoe would be delighted."

The councillor praised the way quarry giant Tarmac had operated at Swinden.

"If you look at the way Tarmac has worked there for the last 20 years, they have turned an absolute eyesore into something that is hardly noticeable," he said.

He described it as a beacon quarry and said Tarmac had implemented procedures there which were now national practice.

He added that locally the company had done much to support the local communities.

He said that residents in Threshfield should be delighted about the proposals to close the village quarry.

"If Threshfield closes and the lorries are taken away from there it will be good for Threshfield," he added.

Tarmac's proposal is to surrender its licence for future extractions at Threshfield and allow the site to regenerate naturally, providing new footpaths through the site.

A new field studies centre and small starter units for new businesses would also be incorporated.

A lagoon would become a protected haven for the endangered natural British crayfish, which is under threat from more aggressive American invaders.

Julia Mulligan, ward councillor for Upper Wharfedale, which includes Threshfield, said the proposals to close Threshfield were a good idea.

"They can't get any of the materials out of Threshfield other than by lorry," she added. "I think there is potential to create a good recreational area at Threshfield Quarry. I hope Tarmac would take that seriously and from the proposals I have seen they appear to be doing so."

She added that the Threshfield quarry had been mothballed for some time, so no jobs would be lost. But the continuation of Swinden Quarry would secure the jobs there, she said.

Coun Mulligan said that Tarmac representatives had attended a parish council meeting in Threshfield last week.

She said villagers' main concern was the transportation of materials through Threshfield. She said the noise, heavier traffic and mess were factors for residents.

Tarmac representatives have been pleased with the public reaction so far.

Rob Moore, Tarmac northern estates and geology manager, said: "We were really pleased with the attendance at the public exhibition. It was encouraging to receive such positive feedback and it was nice to see so many people take an interest in the quarries and our planning proposals. The Tarmac staff involved on the day were made to feel very welcome by the local community."

He told the Herald: "The Swinden Quarry extension does not involve working any deeper than the currently approved scheme and there are no specific business use proposals for Threshfield lower quarry area."