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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
South Downs park inquiry reopens
South Downs (copyright: Murray Downland Trust)
The proposed national park runs from Eastbourne to Winchester
A public inquiry into a proposed South Downs National Park is to be reopened.

It follows consultation over the summer on four issues, minister for landscape and rural affairs Jonathan Shaw said.

He listed them as revised laws, a legal challenge over the New Forest National Park, a possible alternative boundary, and further objections.

Campaigners fighting to have some areas included in the proposed national park, which would cover parts of Sussex and Hampshire, have welcomed the move.

The sheer volume of complaints... illustrates the strength of local opinion
Norman Baker MP

The area was first designated as a national park in 2002, followed by a two-year public inquiry.

The process was put on hold in 2005, and then restarted in July 2007, but with the boundaries of the proposed park re-drawn.

Lewes MP Norman Baker said he wanted the reopened inquiry to look at representations about areas that were excluded when the boundaries changed.

He said: "I believe the sheer volume of complaints about the deletions illustrates the strength of local opinion on this issue, and I trust the reopened inquiry will now be able to address these concerns fully."

'Unresolved concerns'

Robin Crane, South Downs Campaign chairman, said his group would be making the case for reinstating the western Weald and other areas in the plans.

He said: "Although it doesn't resolve the concern over the future of the western Weald, it ends some of the uncertainty as to what happens next.

"Now we have a target to aim for and can start our preparations for the inquiry in earnest."

A pre-inquiry meeting will take place at Hove Town Hall on 11 December.

The inquiry will reopen on 12 February 2008 at the Chatsworth Hotel in Steyne, Worthing, West Sussex.

SEE ALSO
National park changes criticised
29 Aug 07 |  Hampshire

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