Sand quarry meeting packs out centre

Campaigners from Save Steyning outside The Steyning Centre.

Campaigners from Save Steyning outside The Steyning Centre.

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Have your say

Members of the public struggled to squeeze into The Steyning Centre on Monday evening to discuss proposals for a sand quarry in Steyning.

Around 180 people attended the meeting, which was held before Steyning’s annual parish council meeting, over a proposed plan to extract 850,000 tonnes of soft sand from Ham Farm on the edge of the South Downs National Park (SDNP).

The site is included in West Sussex County Council and the SDNP association’s Joint Minerals Local Plan, which is currently out for consultation.

Many members at the meeting were part of Save Steyning, a campaign group fighting the proposal.

The group has set up an online petition which has so far collected nearly 1,000 signatures. Members rallied outside the centre before and after the meeting.

Jamie Counihan, one of the organisers, said: “It is good to hear the (parish) council is planning some action. However, I am disappointed the county council feels it can ignore the requests made by the community. The community is at the heart of this plan.”

Residents at the meeting felt there was no communication with the county council about the plans, and were worried an increase in lorries would endanger drivers using the A283 through Steyning.

Philip Bowell, who stood down as chairman of Steyning Parish Council on Monday, called for an action group to be formed.

He said: “We held this meeting so we could go back to West Sussex County Council with residents’ issues. We need to show how very passionate we are to stop this happening. We need to put this document under a microscope so we can challenge these questions as quickly as possible. While we still need to fully debate the issue, we understand the concerns of residents.”

County councillor David Barling said: “I shall do my utmost to defend this. I am doing everything I can to assist the residents group. I have applied for an extension to the consultation period but it has been declined. However, if anyone has a reason not to put something in before June 17, they will look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

The consultation period for the plan currently ends on June 17, but Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has also written to the county council requesting an extension.

People can attend a meeting at the Steyning Centre on Saturday between 5pm and 7pm to discuss forming an action group. The county council is also hosting a drop-in session on May 23 at the centre, from 3pm to 8pm.

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