Campaigners calling for residents to be consulted over the future of Marchwood Military Port are taking their fight to Downing Street.

Parish councillors have launched a petition urging the Government to seek the views of people living near the 330-acre base.

It follows a behind-closed-doors meeting last month at which civic chiefs were updated on plans to sell the port.

As reported in the Daily Echo, councillors leaving the meeting said the Ministry of Defence should carry out a “proper” public consultation exercise.

The petition has already been signed by about 400 people and is due to be handed into 10 Downing Street next month.

Associated British Ports (ABP) has expressed an interest in the port, sparking fears that road and rail traffic in the area will increase if the company is allowed to take over the facility.

Marchwood is home to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, which is due to remain. But ABP is keen to use part of the site as a car storage facility, creating up to 400 jobs in a scheme similar to multi-storey car compounds at Southampton Docks.

Liverpool-based Peel Ports is also eyeing up the facility, which occupies a prime site on the western shores of Southampton Water.

Parish council chairman Keith Petty said: “We are not NIMBYs. We just want to ensure that any new development is managed in such a way that it does not have a major impact on the lives of Waterside residents.”

County councillor David Harrison added: “Plans to develop the port for commercial use will likely have far-reaching impacts for many years to come.

“It’s ironic that the MoD exists to defend democracy in this country but appears to have a blind spot when it comes to this part of the New Forest.

“They need to engage with us. That means taking on board our concerns, not merely briefing us on the bits they think are important.”

Campaigners are determined to collect more than 1,000 signatures by the time they take the petition to London.

Parish councillors have also written a letter that the MoD has agreed to present to all potential buyers of the port, known as the Sea Mounting Centre.

The letter highlights the council’s concerns over a potential rise in road and rail traffic in the Marchwood area.

It adds: “The Sea Mounting Centre borders the New Forest National Park and Dibden Bay, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“Any change of use needs to take into account the environmental impacts on these protected areas.”

An MoD spokesman said: “The MoD continues to work with the local council planning team. It will be the responsibility of any future Marchwood port operator to comply with any planning requirements.”