CAMPAIGNERS against plans to dig up 700,000 square metres of Moors Valley County Park to quarry sand and gravel are to discuss their concerns with an independent inspector at a public hearing.

Hampshire County Council is to hold an eight-day public hearing on its minerals and waste plan for the next 25 years. The plan includes a proposal to earmark a huge swathe of Moors Valley to be a major source of aggregates over the next two decades, yielding as much as 250,000 tonnes of sand and gravel a year from a site running alongside the B3081.

After the aggregates have been extracted in about ten to 15 years’ time, it is proposed to fill the land back up using non-hazardous landfill, then restore it to public open space.

The plan sparked uproar when it was revealed but, despite thousands of letters being sent to the council, the proposal is still in the plan. Now planning inspector Andrew Freeman has been studying all the representations and will discuss the plan with the public at a hearing at the council offices in Winchester from June 6-8 and again from June 11-15.

Some of the No2Purple Haze and Friends of Ringwood Forest (FoRF) campaigners are hoping to attend the whole process.

Sarah Sumner from Verwood, who has been spearheading the No2Purple Haze campaign and is chairman of FoRF, said: “We have a lot to say to the inspector – there is too much stuff in the minerals and waste plan that the council seems happy to just leave there until the planning application stage and we feel those things should be looked at now.

“And we are not happy that, even after the full council voted on an 800-metre boundary between Verwood and any extraction, there is no mention of that in what is being presented to the inspector.”

FoRF members are concerned about the site’s closeness to Ebblake Bog, an internationally-designated site.

Concerns have also been raised by Natural England, which said in its submissions an “appro-priate exclusion zone” should be agreed to protect the SSSI.

But Cllr Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said no amendments to the plan relating to the areaPurple Haze were agreed at the meeting in October.

He said: “The matters raised by Purple Hazecampaigners have been considered and Natural England has raised no objection to the council’s approach.”

He said the development line remained the same to allow for flexibility including the protection of Ebblake Bog.