Loxwood Clay Pits Ltd wanted to extract 375,000 tonnes of clay from the site in Pallinghurst Woods over a 30-year period alongside a phased restoration using inert waste. Meanwhile the recycling facility would have proceed 25,000 tonnes of inert construction, demolition and excavation waste per year.
The plans have been hugely unpopular in the area with more than 1,600 objections registered and a petition opposing the scheme topping 5,000 signatures.
West Sussex County Council’s planning and rights of way committee unanimously refused the application last Wednesday (May 18).
Committee members raised concerns about the impact on wildlife, the number of HGVs that would take to the road each day, and whether there was even a need for a clay quarry.
Speaking on behalf of the Stop the Clay Pit campaign group, local resident Fiona Wallace said: “Our hundreds of supporters can once again enjoy these wonderful woodlands knowing this unsuitable planning application has been wholeheartedly refused.
"We thank everyone who supported us over the past two years to help raise community awareness and ensure as many members of the public as possible had a chance to share their views.”
Chichester district councillor Gareth Evans (LDem, Loxwood), who has been strongly involved in the campaign, welcomed the county council’s decision.
He told the meeting: “At a time when councils up and down the country have declared both climate and biodiversity emergencies this type of planning application is not only nonsensical but utterly tragic. These woods are a community asset and to lose it, as we believe permitting this application surely would, is a devastation.”
Afterwards, he added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody involved in the Stop The Loxwood Clay Pit campaign group after two intense years of working together.
"This was a community effort, and therefore a win for the community. I would also like to thank Loxwood parish council for their excellent efforts in their well-documented and researched objection report as well as all who donated to the cause so we could have the resources and professional help required to fight this unsuitable application based on policy and facts.”