MP hands over petition against Horncroft sand pit
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert handed over a petition on behalf of local people against the proposed Horncroft sand quarry at West Sussex County Hall in Chichester on Friday (28 January).
Mr Herbert has maintained his support for local campaigners who are trying to stop the development of the sand quarry near Fittleworth, which is located in the heart of the new South Downs National Park.
The petition, signed by over 640 parishioners and visitors, was handed over by Mr Herbert to Derek Whittington, Chairman of the Planning Committee at West Sussex County Council. A group of protestors joined the event to add their support and mount a peaceful demonstration with their presence and placards.
Mr Whittington was unable to express a view ahead of the formal planning process, but told protestors that all views would be taken into account.
The proposal for the development, submitted by the Barlavington Estate, is to create the facilities, plant and quarry required to extract 1.5 million tons of sand over the next 20 years.
Local people fear that the development will not only damage an area located within the South Downs National Park, but would increase noise and traffic. It is believed that there would be up to 100 vehicle movements a day from the site - most of them heavy lorries.
The scheme's promoters have submitted the application to the County Council ahead of 1 April when the South Downs Park Authority will assume responsibility for planning decisions in the Park. Mr Herbert and local campaigners hope that the Council's planning committee will nevertheless recognise the importance of preserving the new National Park.
The deadline for objections has now been extended to 11 February, but a decision could still be taken by the County Council.
Michael Brown, the local County Councillor and Cabinet Member for Finance, commented: "I was greatly encouraged to see so many people braving the cold weather, peacefully and democratically to express their opposition to the Horncroft proposal.
"I am quietly confident that their efforts will not have been in vain."
Scott Greenhalgh, of the Campaign against Horncroft Steering Group, commented: "We greatly appreciate Nick Herbert's support. There is overwhelming opposition to Horncroft locally and a very real concern that the first new quarry in a National Park would establish a terrible precedent not just in Sussex but nationally.
"West Sussex has 20 years of reserves based on current demand so there really is no need for Horncroft."
Nick Herbert commented: "I was delighted to hand over this petition on behalf of local communities who feel so strongly, as I do, about protecting the South Downs against inappropriate development.
"Quarries in national parks are rightly not allowed unless there are exceptional circumstances, which I do not believe apply in this case. West Sussex appears to have adequate reserves of sand and alternative supplies, and the focus should be on recycling aggregates."
The MP added: "I hope that all those who will take a decision on this issue, whether it is the County Council's planning committee or the new Park Authority, will note the strength of local feeling and the weight of the arguments against this damaging proposal."
Notes for Editors
1. For further details about the proposed sand pit, visit http://www.proposedhorncroftsandpit.co.uk/
2. The planning application can be viewed at http://eplanning.westsusex.gov.uk/eplanningOPS/loadFullDetails.do?aplld=1183