PROTESTERS are fighting plans for quarries in the national park.
The proposals for quarry sites are at Severals West and East in the parish of Woolbeding with Redford, Minsted West in the Stedham parish, Hawkhurst Farm in West Lavington, Duncton Common and Coopers Moor, West Heath Common in Harting and Horncroft near Fittleworth.
This follows West Sussex County Council’s (WSCC)announcement it is producing a joint minerals local plan with the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).
Campaigner Mark Coppen said the Hawkhurst site would be ‘an immense scar the size of 30 football pitches’, adding: “The proximity of the sandpit to Midhurst means visitors will have this as their enduring image of the town.”
Resident John Trueman, who produced the mock-up picture of on the front page, showing how the Hawkhurst site could look, added: “Midhurst has been caught flat-footed on mineral proposals. Timed to coincide with the peak holiday period but couched in dead language, the plan is hardly a good beach read. Midhurst – and other areas too – will need to catch up fast, otherwise we’ll wake up to find a huge sand development, a total eyesore, coming to our own backyard, easily seen from the South Downs, and the prospect of noise, dust and rumbling large lorries blighting the town.”
Campaigners argue there would be a drastic increase in lorry movements.
Mark added: “We accept the need for sand in our growing economy, but Hawkhurst Farm is a special case because it is so highly visible to the surrounding national park. There is also a high flood risk. The site was not considered to be acceptable in the earlier minerals plan due to landscape impact.”
The chairman of Bepton Parish Council, Howard Ewing, said although there were no proposed sites in his parish, Bepton would be ‘severely affected’.
“We can’t understand why the SDNPA has gone along with these proposals,” he said.
“We are also disappointed no-one from the SDNPA is prepared to attend our council meeting on September 25. There is a great deal of anger and frustration among residents.”
Pieter Montyn, from WSCC, has responsibility for planning for minerals extraction. He said: “We would like the public and industry to look at the information we have put together for each site and let us know if it is accurate.”
The list is open for public consultation until September 22. Paper copies are available at council offices and the SDNPA headquarters in Midhurst. See www.westsussex.gov.uk/mwdf
Campaigners have set up a website to give more information and details on how to make comments, at www.midhurst-sand.com
They have also set up a South Downs National Park forum debate, southdownsforum.ning.com