RARE clays could be extracted from a site just west of York, which would be used to help build flood defences and line landfill sites.

Escrick Environment Services has applied for planning permission to develop 6.8ha south of Kettlewell Lane and north of the A59 at Upper Poppleton on ‘green belt’ land.

Once the clays have been extracted, the site would be restored with woodland and wetland, according to plans submitted to City of York Council.

The site, 300 metres north-east of Dutton Farm, is presently scrubland with a pond and some years ago clay was previously extracted there.

These former works and borehole tests have confirmed clay is present at thicknesses between 7.3m and 8.2m.

The planning application says some 50,000 tonnes of clay would be worked a year. Overall, site working would take about six and a half years, with restoration a further three and a half years.

If approved, an estimated 180,000 cubic metres of clay would be extracted. Restoration would involve 390,000 cubic metres of material, leaving the site a little higher than at present.

The site would also include a small site office and better access.

Three or four jobs would be created, with the venture generating about £6 million of revenue.

It would operate from 7am to 6pm weekdays and from 8am to 1pm Saturdays. No work would take place on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The application justifies using ‘green belt’ land, saying “clay sites are relatively rare in York and North Yorkshire with only four sites (Alne, Hemingbrough, Escrick and Littlethorpe) currently permitted for clay extraction.”

It also said: “The proposed development fulfils the environmental aim of sustainable waste management, a detailed landscape and biodiversity led restoration scheme is proposed which takes into account the requirements of emerging planning policy, the adopted neighbourhood plan and the location of the application site within the Green Belt.

“The proposed scheme is shown to bring about benefits to biodiversity and the local landscape.”

Furthermore, “noise generated from the application site would be well below the identified noise limit and would have no material adverse impact which would justify refusal of the application.”

In comments already received by the council, North Yorkshire County Council Planning Department said it supported the application “as it is an allocated site within the emerging Minerals and Waste Joint Plan.”

The council has yet to determine the application.