Scramble not to be undermined by super quarry

Thursday 10th July 2008 10:00 pm

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CAMPAIGNERS in Kingsley are stepping up their fight against proposals to extract a further 4.5 million tonnes of gravel and sand from the village. Following proposals made by Hampshire County Council, Kingsley could see a new quarry dug across the road from the existing quarry near Woodland and Rookery farms. The proposed site 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. A person from the Campaign to Save Kingsley, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It just doesn't make any sense. The council is spending public money on fighting to get this area into the boundary of the SDNP, but at the same time 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 are proposing to scar that landscape forever." Hampshire County Council is obliged to produce a certain amount of sand and gravel annually, and these proposals came as the council was faced with a requirement to allow the extraction of up to 2.63 million tonnes per annum of sand and gravel, until 2016. HCC is fighting for lower levels of sand and gravel extraction, and last month the Hampshire County Council leader urged residents to lobby the government to reduce the amount required. Ken Thornber asked residents to tell the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) that Hampshire deserves a more sustainable and lower figure. The person from the Campaign to Save Kingsley said: "We understand that the county council is under a great pressure from central government, and we know that sand needs to be extracted, but we feel like they are 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 were due to be decided at a full council meeting yesterday (Thursday). In an open letter sent to all Hampshire County Council members ahead of the meeting, campaigners asked why the proposed site in Bordon – which was withdrawn last month – was discounted. The letter states: "Why have 1,000 acres of sand deposits around Bordon been excluded? "If you rubberstamp 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.  "All the signs are that Gordon Brown is determined to fast-track the planning process for eco towns, by-passing Hampshire County Council as the legitimate, locally-elected planning authority. "If this happens Hampshire County Council should insist on treating the untouchable Bordon mineral stocks as a contribution to Hampshire's target. 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. The Government is trying to have it both ways. Endorse the proposed minerals plan and you will be caving in to these unreasonable demands." In the letter, campaigners also highlighted the fact that Kingsley has already seen extensive quarrying. It states: "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 over 80 acres – a superquarry. Is Hampshire 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?"