Oxted sand quarry plan thrown out by inspector

Mohamed al Fayed at Surrey County Hall
Image caption The former owner of Harrods threatened to take Surrey County Council to court over the quarry plans

Controversial plans to reopen a Surrey quarry to extract sand have been thrown out by a government inspector.

Former Harrods owner Mohamed al Fayed was among residents opposed to mineral extraction on land near his country estate in Oxted.

He joined protesters against the scheme at an planning inquiry at County Hall in Kingston in January.

Councillor Lynne Hack said Surrey County Council (SCC) was very happy to comply with the inspector's decision.

The inspector also recommended that land north of Thorpe should be removed from SCC's new minerals plan.

They were among 19 new or extended possible mineral extraction sites identified.

Mr Al Fayed attended the inquiry with a QC and said he would take the council to court if the Oxted quarry went ahead.

"Obviously, nobody wants quarrying near them and I wouldn't either, but we had to find some sites - that is our statutory obligation," said Ms Hack.

SCC said the county needed an up-to-date minerals plan which identified suitable areas for quarrying materials for building roads and homes.

"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," said Ms Hack.

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

"Whilst you have got the residents seeking to protect the countryside, you have also got developers asking that other sites should be added, and the inspector hasn't allowed any other sites to be added.

"I am particularly pleased about this."

The new minerals plan will be considered by SCC's cabinet on 21 June and the full council on 19 July.

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