Sand and gravel quarries ruled out in '˜special landscapes' of West Sussex

CAMPAIGNERS have been anticipating it for more than a year and most are likely to agree it has been worth the wait.

Special landscape of the South Downs National Park
Special landscape of the South Downs National Park

The draft West Sussex Joint Minerals Local Plan has finally been published and the ‘long list’ of 27 sites across West Sussex which faced the threat of becoming sand, gravel and clay quarries has been whittled down to just two.

Ham Farm at Steyning is allocated for soft sand extraction and an extension to the West Hoathly Brickworks is allocated for clay to make bricks.

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The plan which is due to go before members of the South Downs National Park Authority’s (SDNPA) planning committee next Thursday (March 10), sets out draft policies which call for a high level of protection for the ‘special qualities and local distinctiveness of the South Downs National Park, High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Chichester Harbour AONB and their settings’.

They include stipulations that proposals for mineral development in these areas would not be permitted unless the proposal was for a small scale development to meet local needs ‘that could be accommodated without undermining the objectives of the designation’.

Major mineral development in protected landscapes ‘will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances and that it is in the public interest’.

It has been five years of uncertainty for those in communities across the county who faced the threat of quarries blighting their landscapes.

On the cards have been 12 sites in the Chichester area, another eight in the Midhurst and Petworth area, a further five in the district of Horsham and two in Mid Sussex.

In May 2011 West Sussex County Council (WSCC) halted its work on a Minerals and Waste Development Framework because much of the land it was considering lay inside the boundaries of the new South Downs National Park.

Instead the county council agreed to work in partnership with the park on a joint plan.

But it wasn’t until August 2014 that the Joint Mineral Sites Study was published listing the 27 sites.

The study went out to consultation and the joint plan was originally expected at the start of 2015.

But officers at WSCC and at the SDNPA said there was a mountain of research to be carried out and evidence gathered during the consultation.

Officers were at pains to point out at the time that the inclusion of sites in the ‘long list’ did not mean they would be allocated in the final mineral plan. But campaigners across the Chichester and Horsham districts have been on tenterhooks for nearly 18 months for this long awaited draft minerals local plan.

In a report to the committee t director of planning Tim Slaney says: “The vision for the plan area to 2033 seeks to conserve and enhance the area for future generations.

“It recognises the need to minimise the impacts of road transport of minerals on local communities. The vision recognises the importance of a continuing supply of minerals and aggregates in particular for economic growth. It also aspires to source more and more minerals from alternatives to indigenous extraction and from areas outside the national park and AONBS.”

The sites considered in the 2014 mineral sites study, now ruled out in the draft Joint Minerals Local Plan are:

CHICHESTER AREA: Woodmancote, Westbourne; Common Road West and Common Road East, Slades Field and Densworth North, Funtington; West Stoke Road East, West Stoke Road, West, Funtington and Lavant; Huntersrace Lane North, Lavant; Madam Green Farm, Oving; Brick Kiln Farm,North Mundham and Oving; land at Redvins, Boxgrove; Funtington West (all sand and gravel quarries).

MIDHURST AND PETWORTH AREA: East of West Common, Harting and Rogate; Minsted West, Stedham and Iping; Severals East and West, Woolbeding and Redford; Hawkshurst Farm, West Lavington; Duncton Common, Duncton and Petworth parishes;Cooper’s Moor, Duncton; (all soft sand). Horncroft, Bury (silica sand).

HORSHAM DISTRICT: Chantry Lane extension, Storrington and Sullington; (soft sand. Land at Wickford Bridge, Pulborough (silica sand); Rock Common, Washington (soft sand; Shoreham Cement Works, Upper Beeding (chalk).

MID SUSSEX DISTRICT: Philpots Quarry Northern Extension at West Hoathly proposed as a stone quarry.

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