Rock star Mike Rutherford, a Loxwood local, has thrown his weight behind a campaign to protect woodland in the rural West Sussex village in which he lives.
Proposals to build a clay pit and landfill recycling plant in the village of Loxwood have prompted the Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics guitarist to speak out about the devastating impact the plans could have on the local community and environment.
Loxwood Clay Pits Ltd wants to extract clay and build a construction materials recycling facility in a 300-acre woodland crossed by public footpaths and bridleways in a project lasting 33 years.
Rutherford, who was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, has lived in Loxwood for the past 40 years and said he feared the plans would “destroy the countryside and woodland”. He added: “The change locally would be so incredibly bad that I think it’s important we try and stop it.”
The plans have met with huge local opposition, with campaigners arguing that the area is a greenfield site with established native woodland that provides an invaluable wildlife habitat. They have also raised concerns about the increase in lorry movements on a large number of rural roads if the proposals were to go ahead. Most recently seen plans show two routes into and out of the site to reach the lorry network.
An action group ‘Stop Loxwood Clay Pit’ has been formed from the local community to fight the proposals and an online petition objecting to the clay pit has already been signed by more than 4,000 people. The group has garnered support from those living in Loxwood as well as neighbouring villages of Alfold, Rudgwick and Wisborough Green, and set up a website www.stoptheclaypit.org.
Dr Jill Sutcliffe, an environmental scientist, added: “This is an important area for wildlife and a Biodiversity Emergency was declared last year. We must look after what we have and encourage more wildlife, not remove habitat so we have less.”
At a recent public consultation webinar, the agent for Loxwood Clay Pits Ltd, ProTreat Ltd, described the proposals as “small” and dismissed claims they would impact locals and wildlife.