RESIDENTS who were expecting a public meeting in December to find out where sand quarries are likely to be sited will have to wait until the summer.
A spokesman for the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) said the event, scheduled for December to provide an opportunity to discuss an updated version of the mineral sites study, would still go ahead but had been postponed until the summer.
“We hoped to hold an event with parishes to provide an update on the mineral sites work. We’ve now had to push this back to make sure we take into account every one of the responses to our consultation as well as including technical assessments and sustainability appraisals. It is important that the minerals plan is based on thorough and accurate evidence.
“We’re grateful for the active role our communities have taken in providing evidence and are sorry for any uncertainty this delay causes.
“They’ll be able to see a factual update of the mineral sites study in the next few weeks and we’ll be ready to share the outcome of the technical and sustainability work in summer.”
As part of the work on the West Sussex joint minerals local plan, the SDNPA and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) had been gathering further evidence on soft sand – including silica sand.
This would help the authorities assess whether there were ‘any exceptional circumstances that would justify allocating sites within the SDNP’.
The long list of sites published last summer for consultation was made up of areas either nominated by operators and landowners for consideration as potential sites, or ones that had previously been considered.
The SDNPA spokesman added: “The early stage was about gathering evidence, so SDNPA and WSCC held two targeted stakeholder events during last summer to get parishes and other local groups engaged with the project.”
Further site or area specific consultations are planned for early next year, once the draft plan was published focussing on the preferred sites. The spokesman said all of the evidence gathered will be used to ensure there is ‘robust information’ to select sites as provisional allocations in the draft minerals local plan. Following consultation, the plan will be amended and there will then be a further opportunity for comments.”