A decision to oppose ‘death trap’ plans for a sand quarry near Steyning has been overridden by a county council cabinet member.
Residents packed out County Hall last Wednesday and were delighted to see West Sussex County Council’s Environmental and Community Services Select Committee vote against the allocation of Ham Farm in the county’s draft joint minerals local plan.
But on Friday, Bob Lanzer, cabinet member for highways and transport, wrote to the chair of the committee explaining that there was ‘no substantive evidence’ to show that mitigation measures could not overcome areas of concern, and pointed out the need to supply minerals to support the local economy.
He added: “Although I understand the concerns that have been expressed by local residents and by the Select Committee, I do not consider that it would be appropriate to delete the Ham Farm site allocation from the Proposed Submission Draft JMLP, which I will be recommending for approval at County Council on 16 December 2016.”
David Barling (Con, Bramber Castle), cabinet member for residents’ services, told the committee ‘this is possibly the worst site that could have come forward for mineral extraction’.
He explained that the A283 was a narrow sub-standard single carriageway, with a ‘virtually ignored’ 60mph speed limit, and felt lorries turning in and out of the site would create a ‘death trap’.
He also argued that a belt of trees screening the site would have to be removed to create an proper access point.
But officers explained there were no other suitable sites within West Sussex for sand extraction, as quarrying within the South Downs National Park would only be allowed in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) added: “It does look manifestly unsuitable on the arguments that have been put forward.”
John Rogers (Con, Cissbury), vice-chairman of the committee, questioned the robustness of the transport assessments for Ham Farm, adding: “It’s absolute madness. I do not know how the access can be mitigated without significant and considerable changes to the tree plan and road layout.”
The minerals plan is due to go to all county councillors in December, and then published for consultation in January. It would then be submitted to the planning inspector for examination.
Residents said they would keep fighting until the site was dropped.
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