Call for soft sand quarry sites issued

The access to Ham Farm in Steyning which was previously allocated as a site for soft sand extraction
The access to Ham Farm in Steyning which was previously allocated as a site for soft sand extraction

A call for new sites for soft sand extraction in West Sussex has been launched.

A joint minerals local plan (JMLP) put together by West Sussex County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority was formally adopted in early August.

The only site previously allocated for soft sand extraction was land at Ham Farm, north of the A283 near Steyning, but this sparked widespread opposition in the town due to road safety and landscape concerns.

During the JLMP’s preparation the soft sand strategy was removed and is now due to be developed separately after the planning inspector raised concerns about the approach taken.

The county council and the national park have now started work on the single-issue soft stand review.

As part of this work it has launched a call for sites, which starts tomorrow (Friday August 24) and runs until Friday September 14.

According to the county council this will ‘enable landowners, mineral operators, and any other interested parties to promote potential soft sand extraction sites’.

The authority says potential soft sand sites that were previously considered during the production of the joint minerals local plan must be reconsidered.

Deborah Urquhart, county council cabinet member for environment, said: “We are committed to listening to customers and ensuring that the needs of our communities are taken into consideration during the decision-making process.

“For this part of the plan-making process we need landowners, mineral operators, and any other interested parties to put forward potential soft sand sites in order to inform and provide evidence for the preparation of the review of the recently-adopted West Sussex Joint Minerals Local Plan.

“The allocation of sites, if necessary, is important as it provides communities and the minerals industry with certainty about where mineral development can take place.”

Neville Harrison, chair of the South Downs National Park Authority’s Planning Committee, added: “The South Downs National Park Authority and West Sussex County Council have been working closely together to produce a sound plan for mineral extraction in West Sussex.

“In the case of soft sand, we accept the need to explore whether there are any sites within the national park that should be allocated as part of the Joint Minerals Plan for soft sand for West Sussex, albeit having regard to the highest level of protection afforded to this landscape.”

At the end of the call for sites period, officers will undertake a robust assessment of each site and decide whether they should be ruled out or shortlisted, and if required to meet the identified need, go forward to the next stage of the plan-making process.

Information on the site assessment methodology and all sites under consideration will be published as part of the informal public engagement on the review that will take place from January to March 2019.

For further details or a copy of the form to promote a particular site, contact the Planning Policy and Infrastructure Team on 01243 642118, email mwdf@westsussex.gov.uk, click on www.westsussex.gov.uk/mwdf or write to: Planning Services, West Sussex County Council, County Hall, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RH.