Genesis rock star joins protesters in demo against plans for Loxwood clay pit

Genesis star Mike Rutherford joined protesters at Loxwood on Saturday in a demo against plans for a clay pit site in local woodland.

Mike - who has lived in Loxwood for the past 43 years - has thrown his weight behind a fight to protect nearby woodland.

Loxwood Clay Pits Ltd is seeking planning approval from West Sussex County Council to create a clay quarry and construction materials recycling facility in a greenfield site in Pallinghurst Woods - in an area criss-crossed by public footpaths and bridleways.

The plans have met with huge local opposition, with campaigners arguing that the area is a greenfield site with established native woodland that provides an invaluable wildlife habitat.

Genesis rock star Mike Rutherford (third right) with campaigners fighting proposals for a clay excavation site at Loxwood

They have also raised concerns about the increase in HGV movements on rural roads.

Mike Rutherford, who was also lead guitarist with Mike and the Mechanics, joined other campaigners at the proposed entrance to the site to speak out about the impact the 33-year project could have on the local community and environment.

He said: “It is a beautiful part of the world, and these woods in particular are special, and to put something the size of two football pitches in it is incorrect.

“The trouble is these are small roads round here and there is going to be a lorry every 15 minutes.

Dr Jill Sutcliffe with protesters at Loxwood: Photo: Steve Robards SR2108084 SUS-210908-115954001

“My main concerns are the woodlands, obviously it will have a huge impact on the environment - but it is also the issue of safety.

“School buses come down these roads, they are used by cyclists, horses and farmers moving livestock – it is just dangerous to have that number of lorries coming.”

Environmental scientist Dr Jill Sutcliffe also joined protesters to raise her concerns about the plans’ impact on the environment.

“It is a greenfield site and it is ironic that this application wants to take down trees to put up a recycling unit, when the government is encouraging us all to plant trees because of climate change,” she said.

“The woodland here supports wonderful wildlife.”

She added that the 33-year proposal would mean there would be a generation of people who will no longer be able to enjoy the woods “which have special tranquillity.

The StoptheClayPits opposition group will be holding events every Saturday in August, at both the proposed site, Loxwood Village and Rudgwick Village.