THREE million tonnes of gravel will be extracted from land near Christchurch after proposals were given the official go-ahead.

The plans, which were submitted to Hampshire County Council in 2016, will see the 77-hectare site at Roeshot used for the extraction operation over a period of 14-16 years, followed by a four-year ‘restoration programme’.

When the proposals were submitted by the Meyrick Estate, which owns the land off the A35, concerns were raised over the increased lorry movements on the already busy main road.

There will be an estimated 120 lorry movements a day to and from the site.

Two petitions were created in response to the plans, and more than 60 people lodged formal objections to the application.

As well as traffic concerns, objectors also fear for the impact of the gravel extraction on local wildlife and nearby protected nature sites, such as Burton Common.

The gravel extraction site was allocated in the Hampshire Minerals and Waste Plan after a previous consultation examined a range of locations; however, Roeshot was ‘the most suitable’.

In August 2016, planning permission was granted for access to the site via an internal haul road from the A35, by the pick your own farm.

Judith Smallman, head of strategic planning, prepared a report on the gravel extraction proposals ahead of a recent meeting of the regulatory committee.

She said the proposal would be a “time-limited mineral extraction which is subject to a requirement for restoration and aftercare” and “contribute to maintaining an adequate and steady supply of sharp sand and gravel for Hampshire”.

She said the scheme would “be acceptable in terms of highway capacity and safety” and “not cause adverse public health and safety impacts”.

The site will be in operation between 7am and 6pm during the week and 7am to 12.30pm on Saturdays, with no operations on a Sunday or public holidays.

An on-site concrete batching plant will also be producing around 20,000 cubic metres of concrete per year.

As previously reported, work is starting on the creation of a Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace on an adjoining site at Roeshot to mitigate the potential harm caused by a major development of 875 new homes. Outline plans by developers Taylor Wimpey were approved in June 2017.