THE fight is on to ensure the Rowley Hills are not ruined by a 30 year plan to fill in Edwin Richards quarry and build 300 houses.

A pressure group, The Friends of Rowley Hills, has been formed to raise awareness about the natural beauty of the hills, which dominate the Black Country’s natural landscape.

Sandwell Council has given outline planning permission to the quarry’s owners FCC Environment to build a waste recycling facility, 281 houses and fill in the quarry with 12 million tonnes of imported material over the next 30 years.

However, Friends vice chairman Mike Poulton, wants the future of the hills safeguarded for the community.

He said: “If we were in Cumbria or Wales everyone would look upon the Rowley Hills as the a wonderful geological asset but not in the Black Country.

“This is a one off chance to safeguard the beauty of the hills for generations, they have unique natural features and industrial history and we have to conserve them”

He added: “We and local residents want to be ensured about the details of any such schemes and how they will protect, enhance and create access to the special heritage that exists there.

“In the first instance clearly there are concerns about what will happen to the enormous amount of decomposing household waste which is to be removed.”

Friends chairman Jayne Wilkinson added: “This site is also a keystone of the ambitions for these landmark basalt hills to become a Country Park –The Rowley Hills Country Park. This Country Park would form a highlight within a network of geosites across the Black Country Global Geopark, and provide a central viewpoint focus of a long distance footpath crossing the Geopark.

“The development of the Edwin Richards site can, if handled carefully, meet both the housing needs and become a route to motivation of local people delivering something for their wellbeing and that of others who will ultimately live there, and attract local, national and international visitors who will come to explore the Geopark and its special heritage features.”

Chairman of Sandwell Council’s planning committee Councillor Steve Freer defended the decision to give outline permission to FCC Environmental’s plan.

He said: “The applicants have been more than sensitive. They already have planning permission for houses from 1984 but they have come to us and wanted to do it properly.

“They are responsible, for instance they are using clay soil and not contaminated soil and the quarry is not the safest place to go now anyway.”

For more information about the pressure group visit