Local Campaigns

Part of the Eashing Farm sand allocation site on the edge of Hurtmore village, Surrey

Part of the Eashing Farm sand allocation site on the edge of Hurtmore village, Surrey

In a local campaign lasting almost five years, Green Balance enabled a local campaign group to prevent a potentially damaging large sand pit from being allocated for working in the Surrey Minerals Plan. The case at Hurtmore, near Godalming, required both technical understanding and persistent pursuit of answers to difficult questions.

Residents of Hurtmore village near Godalming, Surrey were surprised when in 2006 the County Council identified Eashing Farm as a preferred area for the quarrying of soft sand and Bargate stone in a Primary Aggregates plan as part of its Minerals Local Plan.  About 5.25 million tonnes would be dug up from this substantial site.  The Save Surrey Hills Action Committee (SSHAC) was formed in response, and Green Balance was retained to advise on how to tackle the proposed allocation.  On technicalities we were able to show that major issues affecting the practicability of operating the site remained unresolved, including:

  • in the absence of a hydrogeological study, how could it be known whether the adjacent site of specific interest would be affected by working the site, as its designation relied on a pure water supply through the allocation site?
  • how would the 0.9 million tonnes of waste silt in the site be disposed of?
  • would necessary improvements to the slip-roads onto and off the adjacent A3 trunk road be economically justified by the low grade mineral in the site, or practicable in view of unwilling vendors of the necessary land?
  • one slip-road would pass so close to the village pub that this would probably close: how could this be justified?

We also helped SSHAC to run its campaign.  We engaged with all the national agencies with responsibility for aspects of the allocation, and advised on when and how to draw matters to the attention of local government officers, politicians and the media.  We advised on the engagement of transport consultants and lawyers at appropriate moments for specific purposes, and we helped SSHAC to avoid difficulties with objectors to competing sites.  We advised when its members should write letters (to whom and on what) and turn up at events. We drafted submissions to all stages of the Plan, including appearing at its Examination as both expert and advocate.  Throughout the process we kept in close touch with SSHAC, providing reassurance about what needed to be done, when and why.  In 2010 the Eashing Farm site was removed from the Plan submitted for Examination by an Inspector, and at the Examination the mineral company which had proposed to work the site withdrew its interest. The campaign had been successful, though all SSHAC’s questions remained unanswered.

 At the close of the Examination, SSHAC’s Secretary wrote to us: “We must once more express our great thanks to you for all you have done for the Committee and the local residents in this community… you have always treated us with the most attentive care and consideration and taken up every little (and often irrelevant!) concern with the utmost patience.  We quite frankly could not have got where we are now without you, and we are sure it is because of your expertise, perseverance and complete integrity that things have turned out the way they have.”

 

 

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