Surrey councillors approve quarries plan

Councillors have approved plans to open or extend 17 quarries across Surrey.

Surrey County Council's cabinet has approved the authority's minerals plan, which includes proposals for some quarries on green belt land.

The plan sets out how the county will meet government targets for mineral extraction, such as silica sand and brick clay quarrying, until 2026.

The council says the plan will "better protect" the countryside. The plan goes before full council on 19 July.

Among the sites included in the plan are three in Nutfield and Bletchingley, which are in the green belt.

The inclusion of sites in Oxted and north of Thorp were thrown out by a government inspector in May.

Environment councillor Dr Lynne Hack said: "We've worked hard to protect as much of Surrey's countryside as possible.

"I would prefer that no areas of Surrey were quarried but our county needs to play its part in providing raw materials to build and maintain roads and houses.

"With this in mind, we came up with a plan that has as little impact on the environment and residents' lives as possible.

"The latest government advice says if you don't have an up to date plan, the default position should be to say yes to development.

"This could make other areas of Surrey's precious countryside vulnerable to quarrying which clearly isn't acceptable."

Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed criticised the decision to keep three potential green belt quarry sites in its minerals plan.

The chairman of Fulham Football Club said quarrying the green belt could cause "widespread damage".

He had backed a campaign by Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group against proposals to extract sand from land in Oxted.

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