Campaigners were ‘delighted’ this week to find out that long-contested quarry sites had been dropped by the South Downs National Park.
Residents had written a deluge of objections to plans for soft sand quarries at the Severals near Cowdray amid concerns the excavation could permanently scar the cherished landscape.
Following a public consultation, the South Downs National Park Authority is expected today (Thursday) to agree with a recommendation to discount the Severals from its shortlist of sand extraction sites.
Philippa McCullough, on behalf of the action group Severals Against Cowdray Quarries, said: “We are relieved and delighted that the Severals sites have not been included in the shortlist.
“The prospect of ruining these beautiful woods and heathland really united Midhurst and the surrounding villages in opposing the plans – the response was overwhelming.
“We’d like to thank the hundreds of people who took the time to respond.”
The report on the consultation to the SDNPA committee meeting today noted that of around 900 responses, ‘most representations (90 per cent) related to the Severals East and Severals West sites’.
Residents had previously voiced concerns over traffic disruption from HGVs through Midhurst and other areas, the loss of a wildlife corridor and damage to the conservation area.
Ros Hart, chairman of Beptop Parish Council said: “Bepton Parish Council is delighted to hear the news, which we believe to be absolutely the right decision.
“It’s certainly a great relief for the residents of Bepton, Midhurst and the surrounding area, who would have been directly affected by the development of the quarry and whose enjoyment of the countryside would have been curtailed.
“We will remain vigilant as this is not the final conclusion of the planning process but it’s certainly a good start.
“We do want to thank all those people who wrote in to oppose the application.
“The reaction to these proposals certainly brought people together.”
The soft sand review was prompted by the adoption of the Joint Minerals Local Plan in July 2018 by the SDNPA and West Sussex County Council.
The ensuing concern over the potential inclusion of the Severals sites saw residents appeal to Lord Cowdray and the national park.
A spokesman for the national park authority confirmed that after careful consideration of the potential impact on the South Downs National Park, the proposed submission for the soft sand strategy would include just three site allocations.
A new quarry would be created outside of the National Park at Ham Farm along with two extensions to existing quarries within the national park, east of West Heath and Chantry Lane.
The draft stategy, if approved today, will go to a ten-week formal consultation towards the end of this year before being submitted to the government.