VERWOOD residents say they are up in arms about proposals “on our doorsteps” to dig up eight million tonnes of sand and gravel from land at Moors Valley country park and put more landfill in the forest.
Hampshire county council’s consultation on the plans, which would see 70 hectares of the park off the B3081 known as Purple Haze used for landfill and also an existing landfill east of Ebblake increase by seven hectares, ends on Thursday.
But East Dorset District council leader Spencer Flower is pressing for an extension so people in Verwood can have their say too.
Many people heard the news for the first time at a Local Action Group meeting last week.
Sarah Sumner, a spokesman for Verwood Action Group, said: “Everyone was really shocked and couldn’t believe it.
“After we found out I’ve been talking to parents at the school. Everyone’s asking: why are they doing that?
“People are very proud to have Moors Valley so close to them. It’s a great tourist attraction and a lot of people from far and wide come here on holidaya and use campsites because of it.
“Extracting eight million tonnes will mean a lot of lorries on the road. A public consultation about what happens on our doorstep is a must.”
The ideas form part of the Mineral and Waste Plan for the next 20 years. Moors Valley is partly run by the district council.
Mr Flower said: “I don’t think anybody in Verwood really knew about this at all until Cllr Coombs raised it at the meeting.
“Hampshire have run a very short consultation period and although a lot more will take place over time, I’m particularly concerned about the suggestion that this is a very remote area that won’t affect anybody.
“There are nearly 15,000 people living nearby in a town called Verwood. I’m disappointed they didn’t see it fit to properly consult in the way they should have done.”
Cllr Flower added that processes take years to set up so there would be no immediate impact, and extraction could be done by a conveyor belt to minimise traffic, but he still wants residents to be alert and have their say.
District councillors will decide whether to request an extension on April 13.
View the suggestions at http://consult.hants.gov.uk/portal/pdpp/hys_planning_hampshire_mw? pointId=1584107#document-1584107