Midhurst campaigners back in action over quarries

POSSIBLE sand quarry sites in the Midhurst area could result in 200 lorry movements a day through the centre of the town, county councillor Gordon McAra has warned.

Mr McAra told members of the town council’s planning committee he was ‘deeply concerned’ after he examined the new minerals sites study published this week which lists 27 possible sites for mineral production in West Sussex.

He said there were potential proposals for extraction at Minsted West, next to the existing sand extraction site at Minsted. There were another two potential sites at the Severals in Bepton parish, on land currently owned by the Cowdray Estate which, Mr McAra said, had ‘signified it is happy for it to go ahead’.

“My concern is that with the current backfilling at Pendean there are already 60 large lorry movements a day and if all these other potential sites are granted, Midhurst will have over 200 a day which is a lot going through a very small narrow town. I think it is horrifying.”

Vice chairman of the town council John Quilter told fellow councillors be believed they should look at the possible sites closely.

“We already have a situation in Fernhurst where a different process is proposed but one which requires less material movements than sand quarrying and I seem to recall that the Cowdray Estate was very forthright and up front in objecting to that work in its own backyard.

“I think we should be similarly vociferous to this process being landed in our backyard.”

He said, in Fernhurst, there were objections to plans for exploratory drilling for shale oil and gas because of disruption which could be caused by the transportation of the oil.

“Bearing in mind that would be piped from the site and you can’t pipe sand – this would be many times more disruptive on narrower roads,” Mr Quilter said.

“I find it astonishing that our good friends at the Cowdray Estate could strongly object to one plan rather close to their own back door and raise no objection to this.”

There are four other possible sites listed in the Midhurst and Petworth area.

The inclusion of Hawkhurst Farm, at West Lavington, is likely to re-awaken the huge protests which followed its inclusion in 2010.

Mark Coppen, a leading campaigner said the government’s announcement that national parks would be ‘protected’ from fracking’ should be extended to mineral extraction.

Also on the list are Horncroft, near Fittleworth, Coopers Moor and Duncton Common.

Chairman of Duncton Parish Council Marie Bracey said: “It’s very disappointing these have been included. They are both sites of amazing natural beauty and Duncton will make a very robust response to the study.”

The minerals local plan is being prepared jointly by the county council and the South Downs National Park Authority and will run until 2031. The draft plan identifying preferred sites is expected to be published in 2015

The list in the study is open for public comment until Monday, September 22.

Paper copies are available at all county, district and borough council offices, along with the South Downs National Park Authority headquarters.

Further information on the consultation can be found on the county council’s website at www.westsussex.gov.uk/mwdf.

Any questions relating to the consultation can be emailed to mwdf@westsussex.gov.uk or call 01243 642118.