The new South Downs National Park is in its infancy, in comparison to its fellow parks, with its designation only taking effect from 31st March 2010. Startlingly there is already a challenge to one of its main aims to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area. This is through the submission of a planning application to extract 1.5 million tonnes of sand from woodland near Fittleworth in West Sussex has been lodged with West Sussex County Council (WSCC). You can help us and the local community oppose this threat by visiting our website.
The woodland under threat is lovely – when I walked through it there was a wonderful carpet of bluebells and some fantastic veteran trees, all under threat from these proposals. As well as this there were lots of lovely bits of deadwood, which on first glance you might miss but actually provide vital habitat for many rare species. If you take a closer look at deadwood you realise that the manky crumbly bits are actually humid, safe hidey-holes for invertebrates, plants and fungi which in turn are making vital contributions to processes within the woodland.
Looking at the planning history of the site you might think that it was reasonably safe from development. In 1998 a similar application was taken to public inquiry and refused due to the harm to landscape and public enjoyment of the area, which you hope would be enough to put people off. However things looked a little less rosy for the woodland when the site was submitted as a potential quarry into the West Sussex Minerals and Waste Core Strategy Consultation and WSCC indicated that the site is acceptable in principle.
This is where you come in offering vital support to the local community who are trying to preserve this beautiful countryside that makes up part of the South Downs National Park. If this application goes through it could set a worrying precedent for future applications, not only in this National Park but in others around the UK. So if you don’t think we should allowing woodland to be felled to extract minerals and authorising new quarries within National Park you need to write to WSCC (application ref WSCC/053/10/BY) to tell them so!
You can find out more information on our website.