Hamble’s MP Mike Thornton will today (Thursday 14th March) resume the battle to protect local countryside from sand and gravel extraction, with Hampshire County Council’s controversial Minerals and Waste Plan set to undergo further public hearings before a planning inspector.
The Eastleigh MP is expected to argue that proposed changes to the plan are ‘flawed’, and if allowed to go forward, will leave the county’s countryside under threat from even more sand and gravel extraction at new sites.
Mr Thornton will say that the ‘relaxed’ restrictions and controls on development of new sites not in the plan are ‘pathetic and frankly inadequate’, making it easier for developers to bring forward more land for extraction.
The Plan, which is a blueprint for the county’s mineral needs for the next 20 years, had its initial Government Planning Inspector hearing in June last year, and a further consultation took place at the end of last year on proposed changes to the Plan. Amongst these, are controversial changes about developing new sites not currently earmarked in the 20 year plan. The Planning Inspector is now set to hear the responses to these proposed changes.
Commenting on the hearing, Mike Thornton MP said,
“Local people feel badly let down by this deeply flawed County Council Plan. It is unbelievable that after all of the time and public money spent by Hampshire County Council to develop this plan that identifies sites to meet gravel and sand needs, the Council are now willing to put in place such flimsy regulations on how further sites outside of the Plan can be brought forward.
“Far from protecting our green spaces, if the plan is allowed to go forward like this, it will have completely failed to protect our countryside from more gravel pits. Local sites like Pickwell Farm and Hound Corner could be up for grabs to be exploited by developers, even though they were previously ruled out as being unsuitable for extraction.”
“Local people could be betrayed once again by this botched County Council Plan, and I hope the planning inspector will listen to reason.”
Mr Thornton added, “My election victory last month was a message coming loud and clear from local people to the County Council and planning inspector that this plan is not sound. Everyone knows that the inclusion of Hamble Airfield site for gravel extraction in this plan is completely lacking in common sense, with gravel extraction threatening to destroy the village’s character’ and hit the local economy hard.”