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Forest friends to speak at inquiry
A PUBLIC hearing into the soundness of a plan to dig up 700,000 square metres of Moors Valley for aggregates and landfill resumes tomorrow.
An independent planning inspector will hold the hearing into Hampshire County Council’s minerals and waste plan in Winchester on Wednesday and Thursday.
The plan, which sets out the way waste will be dealt with and where aggregates will be extracted for the next 20 years, has attracted fierce opposition from lovers of the country park.
A campaign by the Friends of Ringwood Forest drew thousands of responses to the plan, objecting to its allocation for a site just outside Verwood to provide soft sand and gravel. The plan anticipates that once the area has been used for aggregates the hole would be filled in with non-hazardous landfill and the area restored, but campaigners say this would take decades. The draft Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan was scrutinised at public examination hearings last June, and people were invited to comment on recommendations for changes.
Members of FoRF attended the hearings and were hopeful they had managed to get their points across to the inspector.
Now members have been invited to address the inspector at the hearings next week.
Chairman Sarah Symner said: “We’re going to try to get to the bottom of whether the sand is under or over the water table as we think there will be a significant issue if it’s below the water table, as Tarmac stated at the hearing.”
Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, commented: “The Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan will play a fundamental role in protecting Hampshire’s environment and communities over 20 years.
“It will ensure that the local economy is supported by enabling an adequate supply of minerals and sustainably managing Hampshire’s waste.”
If the inspector decides that he has collected all the necessary evidence after next week’s talks, he will close the hearing and finalise his report which will confirm whether he considers the plan to be sound.