PLANS to expand a quarry and dig up 6.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel have been unveiled.

Blackwater Aggregates is seeking planning permission from Essex County Council to excavate land off Cuthedge Lane near to Coggeshall as part of the ongoing work at Bradwell Quarry.

The 237 acres site, which is the equivalent of nearly 170 football pitches, would be dug up across a ten to 12 year period and all minerals recovered will be transported in a dump truck to the existing on site processing facility.

In its planning statement, Blackwater argues the scheme is not about expanding the quarry but will instead extend the life of the work taking place there.

The statement adds: "There is no intention to expand, alter or modify the productive capacity of the washing and screening plant, nor the concrete batching plant, dry silo mortar and bagging facilities.

"Therefore, the impact of quarrying operations across the site on the overall quarry operation, will be that of extending the life of the existing on-site washing and screening plant; the potential environmental effects will remain largely unchanged and will continue to be mitigated by the existing management and control measures."

The proposed land is near to where the Environment Agency is planning to install a flood defence scheme.

Bosses want to install a small dam in the River Blackwater and use a nearby field as a flood storage area.

Blackwater Aggregates is expected to provide £8m towards the scheme.

However, there is no mention of the flood prevention plans in Blackwater's application because it says it is "completely unrelated".

The firm has been running Bradwell Quarry since 2002 and has excavated more than ten millions tonnes of sand and gravel.

As part of its work, Blackwater is required to help restore a combination of agriculture, woodland, and nature conservation areas, as well as create or improve water lagoons once excavation has finished.

The firm says it will do the same to the area of land included in the expansion plan.

Essex County Council will have the final say on the proposal.