I REFER to your article ‘Park authority vetoes unpopular quarry plan’ and would like to correct a number of significant inaccuracies.
Duncton Quarry has an existing planning permission to extract chalk until 2041. An operating life of 30 years for the proposed scheme should not therefore have been a surprise to members, as it coincides with the existing planning permission.
The current consent allows chalk to be excavated to a depth of 60m and requires only token restoration. The proposals would have provided a means of restoring the site to a far more satisfactory and beneficial standard, both in landscape and ecological terms.
The South Downs National Park Authority’s refusal of the application shows a lack of vision and does nothing to resolve the uncertainty over the future restoration of the site which will be left to future generations to deal with. This is against the principle of sustainable development which by its definition places a duty on today’s society to improve the future generation’s life by acting responsibly now to environmental matters.
The SDNPA has basically swept this matter under the carpet to be dealt with at some point in the future.
GPR Wessex are not landfill operators. They did not seek to fill the quarry with as much material has possible. They wanted to restore the site to provide facilities to the national park whether for camping, general purpose or a rural enterprise scheme. The company directors live within the area and enjoy the national park with their families. It was not their intention to create an unsympathetic feature that would be out of keeping with the national park.
Statutory consultees were not lined up to shout down the scheme. All their comments are available on the internet. The county archaeologist, English Heritage and the Environment Agency had no objections. Chichester District Council environmental health had no objection on the grounds of noise, contaminated land or air quality. The county landscape officer stated that the restoration proposals were in accordance with their recommendations.
I understand that the proposals and others like them are unpopular, but they are entitled to a fair appraisal. This is not helped by one-sided and inaccurate representations from local parish councillors and the SDNPA, only for this to be compounded by inaccurate newspaper reporting. On this occasion, the SDNPA have clearly made the wrong decision which would have secured the long-term sustainable restoration of this quarry while also providing local employment for 30 years or more.
Planning advisor to GPR Wessex