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Residents prepare to fight New Milton Sand and Ballast's renewed plans for quarry on town's greenbelt

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RESIDENTS are gearing up to fight renewed plans for a huge gravel quarry on greenbelt land just outside New Milton.

New Milton Sand and Ballast (NMSB) has revealed its intentions for Ashley Manor Farm in a letter to neighbours of the site which runs parallel to Angel Lane, but has not yet submitted a formal application.

Previous plans by the company for a quarry there were thrown out by an appeal inspector in 1999 after hundreds of residents said the move would destroy the local landscape and have a huge impact on livelihoods.

New Milton Sand and Ballast won an appeal in 2009 to dug up Downton Manor Farm
New Milton Sand and Ballast won an appeal in 2009 to dug up Downton Manor Farm

In 2007 the plot was taken off Hampshire County Council’s list of sites earmarked for gravel extraction, along with Downton Manor Farm – although that has since been dug by NMSB after a protracted planning battle which the company won at appeal in 2009.

Residents of Angel Lane are fiercely opposed to the latest moves, saying the land is “sensitive, beautiful and home to a diversity of wildlife”.

New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne, who recently officially opened a footpath installed by NMSB at Downton Manor Farm, told the A&T he would be “lobbying councillors to stick with their original decision”.

NMSB said it took the concerns of the community seriously and will welcome feedback from residents over the coming weeks and months.

It said its quarries were “tightly controlled” to meet high environmental standards, which include noise and dust monitoring.

But Angel Lane resident Peter Bowyer said he believed resistance to the plans would be widespread, given the site’s proximity to New Milton town centre.

“Yes, this impacts neighbours directly overlooking the site – but it is a much greater issue and one that will affect the whole community,” he said.

“We are talking about the industrialisation of a huge plot that spans more than 200 acres.”

He said that with the war in Ukraine affecting cereal supply, the fields had more value as agriculture land.

Other concerned residents have been distributing leaflets to homes and businesses in the town, warning New Milton will be “blighted” and tourism revenue badly affected.

“Residents for miles around will be subjected to dust, noise and hundreds of extra lorry movements every day,” the leaflet said.

“We will see damage to the fragile water table and natural spring on the site, potentially leading to flooding, and the loss of established footpaths, precious habitats and wildlife.”

A spokesperson for NMSB, which has its headquarters in Caird Avenue, New Milton, said: “The creation and preservation of wildlife habitats is hugely important to us, and we always strive to restore and, frequently, improve the land that we quarry – enhancing biodiversity, including rare and threatened species, as well as protecting the woodlands and plants.

“All of our environmental work is carried out in partnership with national and local conservation groups.”

The company said local councillors and residents will be invited to an exhibition to discuss the plans next month.

The chair of New Milton Residents’ Association, Alan Watson, declined to comment on the plans until an application is submitted.

The appeal inspector who rejected NMSB’s original application for Ashley Manor Farm in 1999 said that given the majority of the local population was ageing, the proposed operations would “last for the remainder of their lives”.

Furthermore, he ruled that given the exposed nature of the site, winds from the south had the potential to carry dust onto residential areas to the north.

At the time, NMSB’s former managing director Mike Baddock told the A&T he had not “given up the battle”.,

He foresaw the company would have to “rehearse all the arguments again in another public inquiry in a few years’ time to satisfy the increasing needs of the local community for construction materials”.

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