PROTESTERS were up early to greet HGVs on their way to a quarry company's Wroughton Airfield site.

Desperate councillors and residents from Wroughton and Chiseldon were out with their placards before 6am on Thursday morning in a bid to send a strong message to Earthline Ltd ahead of a public inquiry.

Swindon Borough Council has been embroiled in a row with Earthline since the company installed a new office building and an extension to the hangar in late 2020 without planning permission.  It also added a vehicle weighbridge and ramp, a fuelling area for lorries and a vehicle washing unit.

Earthline is appealing an enforcement notice imposed by the council which says it must remove the buildings and facilities and the hearing will start on May 10.

The villagers weren't fazed by the early start on Thursday as they claim around 40 Earthline's HGV lorries "thunder" past their windows every morning. 

Swindon Advertiser:

"We're usually awake at this time anyway because the lorries wake us up," one resident said.

Chiseldon ward councillor Jenny Jefferies added: "It's my alarm call every morning. They bounce past at 5.45am anyway. They clatter and clank and make a hell of a noise."

A more pressing concern for the group than the noise is the danger they say the stream of HGVs poses. And Coun David Martyn believes there is "no viable way" for the drivers to enter and leave the site without causing a "significant impact" to Wroughton and Chiseldon residents.

Coun Jefferies agreed: "There's little kiddies going to school, there's no pavement and elderly people are trying to cross the road. The roads are narrow so if a bus and lorry tries to go past, the lorry has to go up on the pavements.

"It's ridiculous and this has been going on now for two-and-a-half years.

"They've plonked themselves up there contravening all planning rules."

"It's quite intimidating walking along the pavement with these lorries whizzing past you," a woman from Wroughton added.

"It is inappropriate. Some of these buildings go back to the 1800s and when you're standing at your doorway, you can literally touch the lorry; to have those going up and down the road is a major impact," says Wroughton's Coun Cathy Martyn. 

They believe the damage to the exterior wall of the Former Toll House was caused by HGVs driving too close.

Swindon Advertiser: Protestors stand outside the Former Toll House to show the damageProtestors stand outside the Former Toll House to show the damage

Coun David Martyn added: "It's their choice of location that is the overriding issue here."

The group also claim the lorries are damaging the roads.

Earthline was approached for comment.

The company's case argues: “Operations inherently require large open areas with good access to highway infrastructure. No such land was available to the appellant within the Swindon Urban Area.

"Therefore, Earthline sought to establish their operations within close proximity to Swindon and at a location with suitable highway and communications infrastructure.

“The site cannot be considered entirely rural and unaffected by commercial and industrial development as there are well-established forms of development upon the site and across the wider airfield.”