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Hampshire County Council gravel extraction plan moves a step closer
7:34am Saturday 21st September 2013 in News
IT has been scrutinised by a planning inspector twice and caused controversy among residents.
But plans to extract sand and gravel from sites across Hampshire have taken a major step forward.
The county council’s Minerals and Waste Plan, which could see millions of tonnes of sand and gravel extracted from sites across Hampshire every year, has been approved.
Residents and businesses have raised concerns about the loss of green space, the impact on wildlife, damage to environmentally- sensitive areas, increased HGV traffic, noise and dust.
The council says the plan aims to provide an adequate supply of minerals while protecting the environment for the next 20 years.
The plan has already been scrutinised by an independent planning inspector, Andrew Freeman, who recommended changes after an examination in public in June 2012 and comfirmed the plan was sound in March.
Eastleigh’s Liberal Democrat MP Mike Thornton has slammed the inclusion of Hamble Airfield, saying it would lead to years of traffic disruption and harm the local economy and community.
He claimed the Conservative-run county council had failed to listen to people and “bulldozed through” the plan.
He added: “It is frankly extraordinary that after all of the time and public money spent by Hampshire County Council to develop this plan that identifies sites to meet gravel and sand needs, the council continue to betray the people of Hamble in this way. Local people have been sold down the river.”
Ruling Conservatives said a clear plan is needed to ensure decisions on extraction are made locally rather than enforced and that the plan is vital for the local economy and the sustainability of managing Hampshire’s waste.
Cllr Seán Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment, said that Mr Thornton’s arguments had been put to the inspector and had been rejected by him and the planning authority.
He added: “What the council has done is taken the responsible approach to safeguarding the future of Hampshire rather than endangering some of the county’s most vulnerable communities and landscapes by trying to pursue a threadbare argument which had already been decisively rejected by the independent planning inspector as well as the overwhelming majority of county councillors.
Residents have begun a petition, which can be found here.
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