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New Milton Sand and Ballast submits proposal for gravel quarry on Ashley Manor Farm in Barton

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THE company behind renewed plans for a gravel quarry on greenbelt land in Barton has taken a step forward by formally lodging its proposals.

New Milton Sand and Ballast (NMSB) has applied to Hampshire County Council for permission to extract 1.7-million tonnes of sand and gravel from Ashley Manor Farm, which runs parallel to Angel Lane, over a 12-year period.

As reported in the A&T, some local residents are fiercely opposed, saying the land is “sensitive, beautiful and home to a diversity of wildlife” and raising concerns over noise and visual impact.

Ashley Manor Farm in late 1990s
Ashley Manor Farm in late 1990s

However, the company insisted it had “in part” addressed residents’ fears during “extensive” public consultations conducted in the lead-up to lodging its latest plans.

It said that from the feedback received it was “clear that there was a general misconception about the scale and nature” of the proposed development.

A previous planning bid by NMSB to dig the site was thrown out in 1992, with a subsequent appeal also unsuccessful after hundreds of residents said development would destroy the local landscape and have a huge impact on livelihoods.

However, the company said the old application was for a much larger area than that now being proposed.

The application said: “They were imagining extensive unscreened open areas with blasting and the uncontrolled release of dust and high levels of noise.

“Using the existing operations at Downton Manor Farm, these misconceptions were, in part, addressed.

“At the request of those consulted, changes have been made including a significant increase in the provision of permissive paths to create additional public access to the land.”

NMSB said perimeter hedgerow and tree planting would address concerns over visual impact and noise, plus grassed soil mounds.

The entrance to Downton Manor Quarry
The entrance to Downton Manor Quarry

A planning statement stated that if it could not supply its existing mineral processing facility 200 metres away at Solent Industrial Estate, materials from third-party quarries outside of the local area would need to be transported in.

“Construction costs would rise because substitute materials would have to be imported from further afield, incurring greater haulage costs,” it said.

“Furthermore, importing materials from other more distant sources is less sustainable, having a much greater environmental impact such as increased vehicular emissions and carbon; road wear and tear; and traffic congestion.”

NMSB said the mineral reserves at its other quarry at Downton Manor Farm in Milford would be “exhausted” within the next five years.

In order to accommodate HGVs going between the 26.8-hectare application site and Solent Industrial Estate, the company said it would upgrade the roundabout on the A337 at its junction with Caird Avenue.

Under plans, the land would be worked in phases between 7am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, and subsequently be returned primarily to productive agriculture at original ground levels within one or two years.

“Biodiversity gains are proposed, with the creation of new and historic hedgerows, lowland meadow grassland, orchard, ponds and ditches,” said the applicant.

In 2007, the plot at Ashley Manor Farm was taken off Hampshire County Council’s list of sites earmarked for gravel extraction.

NMSB said it had recently carried out a study to determine the local area’s mineral requirements for future development purposes, which had identified that between 10,000 and 16,000 new homes will be needed in the New Forest over the next 20 years.

“It has been calculated that 3.2-million tonnes of aggregate is needed for 16,000 new houses, and a further 1-million tonnes for extensive improvements to New Milton,” it said.

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