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Plea to object to inclusion of Ashley Manor Farm and Midgham Farm in mineral extraction plan defeated at special meeting of New Forest District Council

THERE will be no objection made by NFDC to the inclusion of two New Forest sites for future mineral extraction after a motion was defeated at a special meeting.

Members gathered on Tuesday evening to discuss its formal response to Hampshire County Council’s plan after Lib Dem members criticised the Conservative-run council for its “watered down” objections.

The plan outlines how the council will deliver enough minerals for the county’s needs, as well as how it will deal with waste material that cannot be reused or recycled as renewable energy, up until 2040.

Ashley Manor Farm (picture: Google)
Ashley Manor Farm (picture: Google)

Future extraction sites include Ashley Manor Farm in New Milton, Purple Haze south of Ringwood Forest, and Midgham Farm near Fordingbridge.

Cllr Jack Davies proposed a motion which called for councillors to back the removal of Midgham Farm and Ashley Manor Farm from the plans.

He said the weight of opposition from locals – which included hundreds of objections – should be heard.

“When you’ve got councillors and residents saying ‘we don’t want these sites’, it is important to listen.

“This is a real opportunity for all of us to do our bit and stand up for the residents.”

Cllr David Millar said the voices of opposition had been “loud and clear”, with concerns over increased traffic on already congested roads, noise, flooding, air quality and environmental degradation among the reasons against the new quarries.

“These issues are not just hypothetical, they are real threats to the fabric of our communities”, he added.

Cllr Malcolm Wade agreed and said the opportunity to object to the plans was a “one-time shot”. He added: “We have a good opportunity here – there are no political sides involved in this – it is about protecting our environment and residents.”

The meeting heard a previous application to create a quarry at Midgham Farm in 1992 was withdrawn after NFDC raised concerns over its impact.

Cllr Janet Richards said: “Nothing has changed since then to lessen these impacts, so NFDC should still be objecting to its inclusion in the plan.”

The motion was defeated by 22 votes to 16.

Speaking against the exclusion was Cllr Jeremy Heron, who said he considered himself “somewhat of an expert” in gravel extraction having grown up living near quarried land.

He added he was “acutely aware” of the need to build more housing locally and said: “It must surely be more sustainable to source the materials from within the area.”

The opposition has criticised NFDC for its “watered down” objections (picture: stock image)
The opposition has criticised NFDC for its “watered down” objections (picture: stock image)

A motion was also put forward by Cllr Steve Davies asking Cllr Derek Tipp, who will approve the final version of the consultation response in his role as cabinet member for planning and economy​​, to consider further concerns raised at the meeting.

He said the council was concerned about “continued reliance on Avon Valley for mineral extraction and the impacts it will have on the local communities” and understood there were “strong and heartfelt concerns and objections”.

“We ask the county council and the secretary of state to take the concerns raised by local residents into account and carefully consider them during the examination of the plan.

“Furthermore, that both the county council and secretary of state need to ensure that if, following examination, the plan does retain the proposed allocations, that the development considerations are suitably drafted to make sure the development which comes forward are subject to site-specific policies and controls to manage operations.”

The motion was carried.

Cllr Tipp said he had “listened to all points” and would “take them on board” before submitting his final response.

He added: “It is important to note, I have to take into consideration not only the needs of those living near the proposed sites, who are the most affected, but also the wider needs of the whole community, for whom these minerals are an essential source.”

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