Desborough Island is seen as a potential mineral extraction zone by Surrey County Council, referred to as ‘PMZ 22′. Surrey needs such sites to help meet its targets for gravel and sand extraction.
For very good environmental and access reasons, Desborough Island is not on Surrey’s list of preferred mineral extraction zones (it is currently classified only as a potential zone), so there is no immediate prospect of it being dug up. We want there to be no prospect of Desborough Island being dug up!
Along with countless local residents, we believe it would be inexcusable to excavate the public open space and beautiful meadows of Desborough Island’s green belt floodplain.
Surrey County Councillor for Weybridge, Christian Mahne, has said he cannot comment on prospects of the current position changing, as he sits on the committee which makes the decisions. But he has said that when gravel extraction is finished in green belt sites, the policy is to restore them to green belt land, rather than leave them as a lake. However, Surrey’s own report on Desborough Island PMZ22 casts doubt on the viability of restoration: Desborough Island is a working floodplain, with aquifers through its underlying gravel which currently provide a good capacity for absorbing flood water; whereas restoring the site to green belt by filling the hole with inert backfill would lose this — so would increase the risk of the Thames flooding in Elmbridge. The gravel is playing a useful role where it is.
Meanwhile, Elmbridge Borough Council Core Strategy states ‘The Council will protect all undeveloped floodplains such as Desborough Island and Hurst Park, Molesey, from non-flood compatible uses, and promote flood-compatible ones’.