South Downs authority vetoes unpopular quarry plan

A plan to transport lorry loads of inert waste to a hilltop quarry and set up a recycling operation has been emphatically dismissed by members of the South Downs National Park Authority’s planning committee.

The committee backed the recommendation of their planning director, Tim Slaney, to refuse the application by GPR Wessex Ltd for Duncton chalk quarry off the A285 at the top of Duncton Hill.

The scheme involved the importation of inert waste and an associated recycling operation to recover aggregate for re-use, using leftover material to fill the quarry void.

The committee was told the timescale for the scheme would be 30 years and involve the importation of 750,000 tonnes of inert waste. Seventy per cent would be recycled and taken off for re-use, leaving 30 per cent to fill the pit. In addition, 1.6m tonnes of inert waste would have to be imported for the quarry restoration.

Meanwhile, chalk would continue to be extracted and overall the scheme would generate between 36 and 48 daily lorry movements.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal brought fierce opposition from some quarters. The committee was told the parish councils of Duncton, East Lavington and Graffham objected.

One of their grounds was the hazards which would be caused on the A285, already branded one of the top ten most dangerous routes in Britain, by the increase in lorry traffic.

Objections were also received from residents in the area, landowners, and walkers on the Downs.

The South Downs Society said the proposal was ‘totally incompatible’ with the setting in the heart of the national park.

Also lined up to shout down the scheme were Natural England, English Heritage, the county archeologist, ecologist and landscape architect, and its highways chiefs.

In his report to the planning committee, Mr Slaney said the applicant had not demonstrated a need or any exceptional circumstances for inert waste disposal or a recycling operation to be located within the national park.

There would be landscape impacts, the increase in traffic would harm the character of the park, and there would be noise and disturbance.

The A285 was a high-risk road and potentially hazardous, he cautioned.

Additional HGVs had the potential to adversely effect local communities along the route.