We have received a letter from Andrew Tyrie, our local MP, in response to our raising the inclusion of the Severals East & West sites in the long list of proposed Minerals sites. Click on Andrew Tyrie MP 11 Sept 2014 to see a copy of his letter.
We have also received a response from Trevor Beattie, CEO of the SDNPA. It is reproduced below, as it sets the context in which the sites are being considered.
Thank you for this email about the consultation process on the draft Minerals Sites Study. The site information you supply is exactly what we need to ensure that we have a full and accurate picture of each site.
I am sorry that you are disappointed that we are unable to attend the Parish Council meeting on 25 September but I think this should to be seen in the context of a long and carefully structured process of consultation and engagement. The Authorities (WSCC and the SDNPA) held two targeted stakeholder events this summer (on the 8 July with Parishes and on 13 August with industry and other stakeholders) where the views of Parishes and local groups were expressed. I understand that Bepton was well represented at the parish event.
These events, combined with the publication of the Background Papers and Mineral Sites Study, provided the context for parishes and other groups to hold public meetings over the summer and early autumn to discuss individual sites. We are pleased that many such events are taking place but it would not be appropriate for SDNPA officers to attend them since they are designed to encourage local debate, evidence gathering and engagement prior to the submission of formal written comments. The presence of SDNPA staff might constrict or influence such debate. It is important that we are able to consider all representations entirely on their merits without any prior involvement to provide a secure basis for later stages when there will be extensive opportunities for further engagement with the SDNPA.
Following the current consultation on the Mineral Sites Study, all relevant comments received will be used to update the information in the Study. Some sites may fall away at this stage if the consultation identifies any ‘showstoppers’ which would prevent a site from coming forward (e.g. a landowner is no longer supportive). The remaining sites in the Study will then be put forward for more detailed technical assessments (sustainability appraisal, habitats regulations assessment, landscape sensitivity and capacity study, transport assessment and strategic flood risk assessment). The outcome of the technical assessments will be published and made available in an updated version of the Mineral Sites Study around December this year.
There will then be a further engagement event in December to which all organisations that have commented will be invited. This will enable us to obtain any further relevant information about the sites which, together with the technical and sustainability information, will help inform decisions about which sites are suitable for consideration as preferred sites at the Draft Plan stage.
The Mineral Sites Study does not propose the sites on the long-list as places that are ‘suitable for minerals extraction’; it is a long-list of possible sites that need to be examined. No decisions have been taken by the SDNPA or WSCC about the suitability or otherwise of the sites on the long-list for mineral extraction.
Further site or area specific engagement will take place in summer/autumn 2015, once the draft Plan has been published and this will focus on the preferred sites identified at that stage. Written comments are welcome at any time, even after the consultation period has closed. The contact telephone number for Claire Potts, the Minerals and Waste Manger is 01730 819287 if you wish to discuss any concerns with her directly.
I hope this has provided the clarification you seek and has reassured you that the SDNPA remains fully committed to a long and careful process of community consultation and engagement.
Chief Executive Officer
South Downs National Park Authority
Tel: 01730 819313 Mobile: 07785 425934
South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
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