Minsted villagers have joined the growing campaign against sand quarries in the Midhurst area claiming they would have a ‘catastrophic effect’ on the South Downs National Park (SDNP).
Minsted Residents Group (MRG), supported by Stedham with Iping Parish Council, has made a strong response to the soft sand consultation which closed on Monday.
They are particularly concerned about proposed sites at Minsted West and Severals West and Severals East, close to Midhurst.
These sites were all rejected in previous Local Minerals Plans, said the MRG, but the latest West Sussex County Council and South Downs National Park Authority Joint Minerals Local Plan was only adopted subject to a modification by the Planning Inspector requiring a separate review of soft sand.
But Minsted residents claim future sand demand and need has been over estimated: “Sand extraction and sales data, much of it from industry, is misleading and not independently audited.
“Also, planning forecasts for future sand demand are not using the correct ‘rolling average’ statistical method, that national planning guidance advocates. Using this method clearly shows a reducing trend for sand demand. Demand will decline further still as future building techniques are developed to use less sand, cement and concrete to reduce carbon emissions.”
The MRG said West Sussex exported a large amount of sand, surplus to local needs.
“Regulations governing national parks state new commercial developments like sandpits are only allowed if the circumstances are exceptional and in the public interest.
“It is clearly not in the public interest to dig up and destroy large areas of the national park, enjoyed by so many, to sell sand elsewhere in Britain or overseas.”
In its response to the public consultation the residents’ group added the consequences of allowing new sand quarries to operate in the area created a nuisance and could be harmful to communities.
They would cause noise and pollution and there would be a ‘massive increase’ in heavy goods vehicle traffic on narrow local roads, as well as through Midhurst.