Villagers at Duncton fear chalk quarry owners may be trying to ‘pull the wool over their eyes’ after lorry loads of waste were dumped there without planning permission.
The incidents have left them with concerns over the type of waste being dumped and whether fresh water supplies to nearby residents have been contaminated.
And they come as villagers are preparing to go into battle against plans by quarry owners GPR Wessex Ltd, to restore Duncton Quarry using imported inert waste material.
The application includes a proposal for treatment activities to recover material for reuse over the next 30 years.
Most recently a villager reported seeing a lorry loaded with builders’ rubble going through the entrance to the quarry which was reported to the South Downs National Park and to West Sussex County Council.
Chairman of Duncton Parish Council Marie Bracey told the Observer: “The first response was that the driver must have driven to the quarry off his own bat and the rubble could be used to repair paths there.
“We fear the owner of the quarry may be trying to pull the wool over the eyes of enforcement officers and we asked the county council to insist the waste was removed.
“To give the county council their due, they did go back and order the waste to be removed within three days.”
But the incidents had heightened villagers’ determination to fight GPR’s restoration plans which are due to go before the South Downs National Park Planning committee in June.
“Our concern is what type of waste was dumped there,” said Mrs Bracey, “and was it inert?
“The dumping was followed by heavy rain and the stuff could easily have been washed into the aquifer and contaminated the water.”
She said villagers did not know if dumping previously had also contaminated water supplies.
“It shows incredible irresponsibility and leads us to believe the owners of the quarry do not have an understanding of the damage they could cause to our local environment, especially the water supply.”
She said any contamination could affect not only the private water supply of residents in East Lavington and at Seaford College, but it could also get into the water courses which flowed through to Chingford and Burton Mill Ponds.
The planning application is due to go before the national park planning committee on June 14.
Campaigners are preparing to fight the plan which they say could wreck the geographical centre of the new national park.
In their planning statement GPR claimed the current restoration scheme would leave a scar on the landscape and lead to a long-term health and safety risk.
By contrast their plans would ‘restore the site in its sensitive location and provide ecological and landscape enhancement opportunities’.
A spokesman for the South Downs National Park Authority said: “We received a complaint on April 2 regarding alleged dumping of inert waste at Duncton Quarry.
“On the same day an officer from West Sussex County Council, acting on our behalf, visited the site and confirmed dumping of inert materials had taken place.
“The operator was contacted and the material was removed.”