March planned against sand quarry

Protesters are planning to march on County Hall in Chichester to ram home their message: No sand quarry at Horncroft.

Plans are being laid for the rally following a packed public meeting at Fittleworth on Friday to hear a revised application from Sir Sebastian Anstruther’s Barlavington Estate to dig up 25 acres of woodland.

The land is in Bury parish but close to Fittleworth and campaigners claim five parishes will be affected if the scheme wins permission.

More than 200 people from across the affected area took every available seat, with some left standing, at Friday’s public meeting.

While no-one representing the Barlavington Estate spoke at the meeting, opponents of the planned quarry discovered they had the support of their MP, Nick Herbert, who represents the Arundel and South Downs constituency, and their county councillor Michael Brown.

Mr Herbert said he hoped West Sussex County Council, the minerals authority, would understand the importance of preserving the special nature and tranquillity of the South Downs and the new national park. He felt the proposal for a major new quarry was inconsistent with this objective.

The MP also told the meeting he believed a decision on Horncroft should be decided by the South Downs National Park Authority, which takes over responsibility for minerals planning on April 1, and not in the last days of the county having the role.

Campaigners claimed they were not being given enough time to respond to the revised application, which reduces the area of the quarry as originally proposed, but, they say, retains the amount of sand to be extracted, and the level of lorry traffic, over the same 20-year period.

The county has given them until January 21 to comment but, with more than 100 documents to scrutinise, they say that is inadequate.

They argue the Barlavington Estate was given months to provide answers to issues raised by objectors on the original application and they expect equitable treatment.

The council chairmen of all the affected parishes have sent a letter to the county making the case for a longer period of consultation.

A petition opposing the sandpit was started at Friday’s meeting and signed by 211 people. Copies are being made available at local shops so more signatures can be collected.

It is planned the petition will be handed in at the County Hall demonstration. The date – sometime within the next month – is expected to be finalised shortly.