Washington residents ‘mortified’ by fresh plans for Rock Common Quarry

Washington residents are concerned about the possible infilling of Rock Common Quarry. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150331-091953001
Washington residents are concerned about the possible infilling of Rock Common Quarry. Pic Steve Robards SUS-150331-091953001
  • Residents’ show of strength against any plans for landfill at Rock Common Quarry
  • Wiston Estate say they want to work with the community over the future of the site
  • But fears raised over revised plans for the neighbouring Windmill Landfill Site

‘Alarmed’ Washington residents turned out in force to show their opposition to fresh plans for the use of a former quarry near the village.

Chanctonbury Landfill Action Group successfully defeated plans for a landfill site by Veolia at Rock Common Quarry back in 2009.

The residents are alarmed. We have been down this route before, and everybody thought that was the end of it

Russ Fowler, Washington resident

But landowners the Wiston Estate and quarrier Dudman have outlined their intention to submit plans later this year to bring in ‘inert infill to enable restoration’ of the quarry.

Residents fear this will equate to a landfill site, leading to a large increase in lorry movements and pollution, and potential contamination of the underground watercourses.

Around 80 people gathered outside the Frankland Arms, in London Road, on Monday March 30 to demonstrate their opposition to any plans for landfill at Rock Common Quarry as well as proposals to abandon restoration works at the neighbouring Windmill Landfill Site.

They have formed an action committee, open to all, with the purpose of finding a mutually beneficial solution over the future of the two sites for both residents and the Wiston Estate.

Russ Fowler, a Washington resident, said: “The residents are alarmed. We have been down this route before, and everybody thought that was the end of it.

“But with the potential landfill being on the horizon everyone is mortified by it all. They feel really let down by the Gorings and feel it was put to bed.”

Speaking to the County Times last week Richard Goring, who manages the Wiston Estate, said they were keen to engage with the Washington community about the future of Rock Common Quarry.

While ruling out filling it with ‘rubbish or putrescible waste’, Mr Goring argued that they needed to change the previously agreed restoration plan for the site to make it safe and sustainable.

But Mr Fowler said: “It’s a commercial opportunity they are trying to exploit, but for me it’s too heavy a price for the residents to pay.

“We are trying to get a mutual realisation with Wiston for the benefit of all.”

WINDMILL landfill SITE

Concerns have also been raised about the future of the Windmill Landfill Site and the historic Rock Mill.

Waste management company Biffa has submitted an application to West Sussex County Council to vary conditions relating to the previously agreed restoration works for the site.

According to the plans neither the owners of the land nor the farmer who manages the site want Biffa to carry out woodland and hedgerow planting ‘as the site is more productive to them restored, as it is, to good quality agricultural grassland’.

Meanwhile part of the site remains ‘unfilled to date’ as the ‘quantity of strictly inert material available to landfill operators has been extremely limited in recent years as a result of landfill tax and recycling initiatives’.

Biffa’s supporting statement reads: “It is concluded that the current restoration levels on the site will be the final restoration levels going forward and there is no reasonable prospect of the valley feature ever been filled.”

Numerous residents have lodged objections with WSCC over the application with most residents calling on Biffa to stick to the original conditions regarding planting as the site is visible from the South Downs National Park.

Multiple objectors have stated the belief that Biffa’s application is linked to the emerging proposals at Rock Common Quarry, due to the potential to access the quarry from the Windmill Landfill Site.

One wrote that the proposed abandonment of promised restoration was ‘unacceptable’, while others called for a decision to be made by WSCC’s Planning Committee and not under a delegated authority by officers.