County backs down over sandpit plan

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating the news that the county council will not now be deciding the planning application for a controversial sandpit within the new South Downs National Park.

West Sussex County Council confirmed on Monday that , because of complexities of comments received, it will not consider the application for a major new quarry at Horncroft, near Fittleworth, at its March 15 meeting as planned. It will be passed on to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), which takes over responsibility for planning from April 1 and its planning committee has already recommended that the Horncroft application should be rejected.

The National Park’s committee had told the county council that the quarry is not in the public interest and that no case has been made justifying exceptional circumstances based on a need for sand in West Sussex. Its planning committee believes a fundamental review of the minerals strategy is needed before any major new applications are considered.

Commenting for the Campaign against Horncroft, Scott Greenhalgh said: “This is good news for the overwhelming number of local residents who have campaigned vigorously against this major new quarry. Now the decision has passed to the SDNPA, whose own planning committee opposes the application, it would be highly surprising if the SDNPA allowed this to proceed. We are also pleased the county council has heeded the advice of so many, including our MP Nick Herbert, and allowed the decision to be made by the SDNPA.”

The applicant, Barlavington Estate, had argued a need for more sand based on the planned construction of 4,100 new homes yearly in West Sussex until 2026.

Mr Greenhalgh said: “West Sussex house building is likely to need just 17,200 tonnes annually. With current aggregate reserves of 5.9m tonnes and improvements in recycling of aggregates, we never understood how these house building plans could justify a need for more sand.”