Campaigners warn against 'super quarry'

Thursday 3rd July 2008 10:00 pm
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CAMPAIGNERS in Kingsley are stepping up their fight against proposals to increase sand and gravel extraction in the village, which could lead to the digging of another quarry. Following proposals by Hampshire County Council to extract a an additional 4.5 million tonnes of material in the village (in addition to the sand and gravel already being quarried there) by 2016, Kingsley could see a new quarry dug across the road from an existing quarry near Woodland and Rookery farms. The site, proposed in the council's Minerals Plan, has attracted widespread controversy as it lies within the boundary of the proposed South Downs National Park (SDNP) and is surrounded by a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A spokesman from the Campaign to Save Kingsley, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. The council is spending public money on fighting to get this area into the boundary of the South Downs National Park, but at the same time is proposing to destroy that land. "Having a new quarry here would completely destroy the landscape. This is a very beautiful, very special area and the county council is proposing to scar the landscape forever." Hampshire County Council is obliged to produce a certain amount of sand and gravel per year, and the Kingsley site has been suggested by the council because it is required to permit the countywide extraction of up to 2.63 million tonnes of sand and gravel per year until 2016. But the county council is fighting for a lower level of sand and gravel extraction, and last month its leader urged residents to lobby the government to reduce the amount required. Leader Ken Thornber asked residents to tell the South East England Regional Assembly that Hampshire deserved a more sustainable and lower figure. The spokesman for the Campaign to Save Kingsley said: "We understand that the county council is under a great amount of pressure from central government, and we know that sand needs to be extracted, but we feel like it is proposing to do it in Kingsley because we are the soft option. "Politically, we are the soft option as it enables Hampshire County Council to meet its excessive mineral quotas, rather than fight back against the conflicting targets for new houses and for extracting minerals imposed by central government. "Geographically, we are the soft option too, as a small rural community already permanently scarred by extensive quarrying can't fight back hard." The proposals will be decided at a full council meeting on Thursday, July 10. In an open letter sent to all members of Hampshire County Council ahead of the meeting, campaigners highlight the fact that Kingsley has already seen extensive quarrying: "Why should one village, after 50 years of multiple quarries inflicting pollution and destruction on its residents and landscape, be dug up for a further 30 years? "If this quarry goes ahead, some houses and historical sites in Kingsley will be completely surrounded by former or working quarries, and heavy lorries will continue to disrupt our rural roads. Don't be misled by the description of this site as the 'Kingsley Quarry Extension'. It is not an extension of the current site but a wholly separate, massive industrial site of more than 80 acres – a super-quarry. "Is the county council planning department deliberately describing it as an 'extension' to mislead decision-makers? Do they see it as a soft option to quarry this small community to death rather than take on more populous sites?" In the letter, campaigners also ask why Bordon was withdrawn as a site last month: "Why have 1,000 acres of sand deposits around Bordon been excluded? "If you rubber stamp the Minerals Plan as it stands, you will be throwing away the strongest argument against the excessive target for mineral extraction imposed on Hampshire by central government. The proposed eco-town at Bordon would forever concrete over up to 1,000 acres of mineral-rich land and make this huge sand resource unusable forever. If the government demands that Hampshire still meets the huge target it has imposed, the only alternative is to quarry the Bordon mineral stocks first, before building."