'I'll Take Council To Hell'

Mohamed al Fayed has vowed to take Surrey County Council to court if plans to extend a sand quarry on greenbelt land are successful.

Mr al Fayed warned he would ``take them to hell'' if the quarry near his family home in Oxted, Surrey, is used for mineral extraction.

The plans would not only ``destroy'' English countryside but would also put strain on small country roads as heavy lorries go to and from the site, said the former Harrods owner.

The chairman of Fulham Football Club - who has lived near the proposed site for 40 years - claimed the council failed to consult local residents properly about the plans.

He said that if the council is successful he will take it to court.

``I will take them to hell,'' he said.

``I can't understand how people can be in charge if they create devastation, pollution everywhere and dangers for the community. It is not acceptable.

``I am not going to let them get away with that.''

Mr al Fayed, who today attended the Oxted Sandpit Mineral Plans hearing at council offices in Kingston upon Thames, said: ``I'm here today with so many of my neighbours to fight a battle that must be won against Surrey County Council and its plan to destroy large parts of the English countryside by allowing excessive and unnecessary quarrying.''

Mr al Fayed said another quarry nearby is already putting strain on the narrow country routes.

He said he feared for schoolchildren, cyclists and horseriders taking to the roads with 32-tonne HGVs ``thundering'' by.

``Hundreds of children and young mothers are forced to live with these lorries and, if they dare to walk anywhere, they take their lives in their hands,'' he said.

``It is only a matter of time before there is a terrible accident.''

He continued: ``So I am standing up with the community and the villagers of Surrey to say 'No'.

``We have had enough and we will not have our lives and environment blighted like this.''

Dozens of Oxted residents attended the meeting with a planning inspector who was assessing the Surrey Mineral Plan.

The proposal has outlined 19 new or extended possible mineral extraction sites around the county.

Mr al Fayed hired QC David Holgate to express his concerns at the meeting.

The inspector is expected to make her judgment about whether the sites are plausible at the end of March.

If she decides the Oxted site could be used for sand extraction, then prospective mineral companies would still need to apply for planning permission in the usual way, a spokesman for the council said.

He said the Oxted sandpit holds enough sand for approximately two years' extraction before it would close and be revived.

Surrey County Council cabinet member for environment Lynne Hack said the main HGV route to the proposed sandpit will only pass by one house.

She said of the Oxted proposal: ``It is a sandpit that has been mostly worked, it has about 200,000 tonnes left which would be about a year or two year's worth of extraction and then the site would be restored.

``At the moment it is an open sandpit and just taking this last little bit out will enable it to be restored to countryside.

``Obviously we need minerals for our schools, hospitals, roads etc and it's better that they come from Surrey rather they are imported and you have more lorry movements.

``I really wouldn't like us to dig up greenbelt but unfortunately most of the minerals are in some form of greenbelt land.

``We've tried to protect areas of scientific interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty but unfortunately 70% of Surrey is greenbelt and that is where those minerals are.''

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