Burcot & Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames
Our first bit of news is that Hills Quarry Products have not submitted an appeal following the second refusal of their Planning Application for a new sand and gravel quarry in Clifton Hampden. The company had until the end of January 2020 to apply to the Planning Inspectorate to review the council’s refusal because of the harm to the Green Belt and adjacent heritage assets, and the traffic problems their proposal would have caused in this sensitive location.
Our second bit of news concerns the county council’s consultation last month on the Part 2 Minerals and Waste Local Plan. The Part 2 Plan allocates new sites to meet any unmet requirement for quarry aggregate and waste processing until 2031. The site at Clifton Hampden (referred to as Site SG-17 in the plan) which had been the subject of Hill’s planning applications has not been recommended for allocation in recognition of the planning constraints. The Part 2 Plan and supporting documents can be found on the councils website https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/new-minerals-and-waste-local-plan
Despite this good news we remain concerned that the county council is still recommending two new sites for sand & gravel in the Part 2 Plan, one between Nuneham Courtney and Sandford-on-Thames and one near Eynsham. In the draft Plan officers continue to rely on a (now proven) wildly inaccurate forecast for sand and gravel need put forward five years ago with backing from the Mineral Producers Association. Calculation of the current landbank reveals Oxfordshire has an enough existing material in permitted quarry sites for at least 18 to 22 years — well beyond the minimum requirement of 7 years and more than enough for the remainder of the plan period.
Bachport has submitted a robust response to this latest consultation challenging the calculations necessitating yet more quarries for sand and gravel. It remains our firm view that no new sand and gravel sites are needed for the lifetime of this plan.
To all our wonderful supporters,
The second application for a quarry in Clifton Hampden was refused again on 15th July by the County’s Planning & Regulation Committee. Of the 13 councillors at Committee, 12 councillors voted against the quarry and one voted to abstain.
A massive thank you to all of you who wrote to the officer and to your councillors and MPs again making it clear the level of public opposition to these plans. There was a fabulous turnout today at Committee and the councillors took our views seriously and fully explored these in their debate with officers and the applicant.
Our final thanks must go to our two County Councillors, Lorraine Lindsey-Gale and Lynda Atkins, who spoke so well at Committee, and highlighted in particular the blight this quarry would bring to our community and to the children at the village school.
We will, of course, have to wait 6 months to see if the applicant decides to appeal. But in the meantime….let the celebrations begin!!
To see some of the local press coverage, go to:
Yet another consultation on the quarry has been issued.
The latest round of consultation covers information from Hills to clarify inconsistencies in their last lot of information. There are no material changes proposed to the application and so there is no need for you to respond to this round of consultation.
Please note the next possible planning committee dates for this to be considered are Monday 15th July or Monday 9th September.
We will only get 1 week of notice so be prepared for a call to action. Another good turnout at the meeting will be important.
This application has dragged on when little has actually changed between this and the previous application, and none of the proposed changes adequately address the grounds for refusing the last application.
The quarry planning application will now NOT be decided on Monday 3rd June.
The cancellation is a result of Bachport highlighting very significant errors and inconsistencies in the latest proposals from the applicant.
We must now wait to see how the Council and applicant respond.
The next possible date for the application to go to a committee meeting is Monday 15th July. We will keep you informed of any future developments regarding this date.
If you would like to respond to the current consultation, the deadline for comments is end of Monday 3rd June. You can do this by:
Post: Emily Catcheside, Oxfordshire County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND
In an extraordinary move yesterday, the planning officer informed Bachport and the Parish Council that the quarry planning application will be decided at the Planning Committee on Monday 3rd June, despite this coinciding with the closure date of the current consultation period.
PLEASE PUT THE DATE IN YOUR DIARY. YOUR SUPPORT AT COMMITTEE LAST TIME MADE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON COUNCILLORS – LET US ENSURE THIS APPLICATION IS REFUSED AGAIN.
When: 2 pm Monday 3rd June
Where: County Hall, New Road, Oxford, OX1 1ND.
If you wish to write to the officer regarding the current consultation, your comments will be noted to the committee if they are received after the committee papers are published in a weeks’ time. Bachport and the Parish Council will be responding within 48 hours.
While we welcome the decision to hear the application without further ado, the most recent information out for consultation about the location of the processing plant, and the necessary bunds to shield it, completely conflicts with previous statements made by the applicant regarding their flood modelling. We have no confidence the flood model is still valid or that the reduction in height of one of the bunds will still protect local residents from noise as claimed.
The main grounds for objection still stand – it is inappropriate development in the Green Belt for which there are no very special circumstances; the impact of additional HGV traffic on an already overloaded road network; the long term damage to the environment; and the threat to the new road and bridge crossing.
Please come and make sure that our voice is heard.
We have now examined the additional information from Hills. The changes proposed in their recent submissions still do not overcome the wide range of issues with their application and Bachport, together with the four Parish Councils, will submit further comments of objection to the planning officer in advance of the deadline for comments (3 June 2019).
Hills continue to deny the application is “inappropriate development” in the Green Belt and have not provided “very special circumstances” to justify any grant of planning permission.
The proposal continues to require more than a kilometre of enormous and incongruous bunds during the lifetime of the development, and wholesale destruction of the existing landscape.
The revised proposal to lower the height of the tallest of these bunds from 10 m to 8 m now leaves nearby residents vulnerable to noise intrusion during the very long life time of the quarry, and still does not address the devastating impacts to openness of the Green Belt from this development.
Recent planning and case law regarding much smaller applications for quarries in the Green Belt, with far fewer devastating landscape impacts than this proposal, overwhelmingly indicate this application should be refused.
Aside from the issues with landscape and Green Belt, the applicant has also still not adequately addressed:
You may wish to write again to the planning officer to indicate that the recent information has not addressed your concerns and your objection to the application remains. The deadline is 3 June 2019.
You may also wish to comment about the time that it has taken to determine this application. The applicant has not addressed concerns satisfactorily, and the application should now be refused without further delay.
Post: Emily Catcheside, Oxfordshire County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND
Thank you for your continued support.
In our last update, we advised OCC had postponed the application from the April committee meeting and were awaiting further information on the enormous bunds which will surround the site to mitigate noise and dust.
Hills Quarry Products have now submitted this information and OCC are holding another public consultation on the material.
The deadline for responses to OCC is 3 June 2019 so there is plenty of time to respond.
The Bachport team are reading the new documents and will respond accordingly. A number of you have already indicated you would like to submit comments on the new information and we will provide some guidance by Wednesday 8th May on arguments you might consider making, leaving almost 4 weeks to submit your own responses.
The earliest possible opportunity for OCC to hold a committee meeting is now Monday 15th July, but a further delay into August or September is entirely possible. We wish we could give you a definite date but OCC are unwilling to confirm one. We will update you as soon as further information becomes available.
OCC have yet again postponed the meeting to consider the quarry planning application. It will now NOT be on 15th April.
The next possible date is Monday 3rd June at 2 pm.
Please pencil it in your diary.
Your presence at the committee meeting in November 2017
was a very clear demonstration of the
strength of your opposition to this quarry.
Your presence in that room will count again.
It is certainly possible that the date for the hearing will slip again. We will keep you informed on this website and by email. Collectively we defeated Hills then and we can defeat them again.
The reason for the delay? Hills are reviewing the height of their bunds because of the harm to the Green Belt from their plans, but it remains to be seen how any changes to these will protect the local community from noise and visual impacts which the bunds were deemed necessary for. If changes are made to the bunds there will be need to be a further round of public consultation before the application goes to the planning committee.
Oxfordshire County Council have yet again postponed the meeting to consider the quarry planning application. It will now NOT be on 4th March.
The next possible date is Monday 15th April at 2 pm @ County Hall. Please pencil it in your diary.
Your presence at the committee meeting in November 2017
was a very clear demonstration of the
strength of your opposition to this quarry.
Your presence in that room will count again.
It is certainly possible that the date for the hearing will slip again. We will keep you informed on the website and by email.
Collectively we defeated Hills then and we can defeat them again.
Many of you will be wondering what is happening with the Quarry. We expected the application to be heard in late October, but have now been informed the decision will be delayed again. The date of the next potential Committee meeting is Monday 10th December.
The transport control officer Geoffrey Arnold has not been persuaded by Hills’ arguments and has lodged an objection stating the traffic impact of the development “would meet the NPPF criteria of ‘severe harm’ so as to justify the refusal of planning permission.” He says the hours proposed by Hills to restrict quarry traffic do not go far enough. If approval was recommended he would require a condition to prohibit all vehicular traffic from entering or departing the site between 7.30-9.15 am and 4.00-6.30 pm, together with realistic and practical options for enforcement of the vehicle restriction for him to remove his objection.
We wait to hear what the council has to say on the other grounds for refusal, in particular whether there is any justification for this development in the Green Belt and conflict with the safeguarded land for a new river crossing.
Hills were defeated in Nov 2017, but have not gone away. They have lodged a new planning application (ref: MW.0074/18). Clifton Hampden and Burcot Parish Council’s official response to this application can be viewed here: CH&BPC Response July 18 (see p.34 for the overall conclusion).
Save the date: The application will not go to committee on Monday 10 September. The next possible date for the Committee meeting to decide the outcome is Monday 29 October. Your attendance is strongly encouraged – the impressive turnout last time made a difference.
ACTION IS REQUIRED TO STOP THIS! WRITE TODAY TO:
Post: Emily Catcheside, Oxfordshire County Hall,
New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND
Using Ref: MW.0074/18
The main arguments against the quarry are set out here. You can copy any or all of these, or write your own.
We need to raise more funds to continue to use professional advice. Every bit helps. Donate by:
Thank you for your continued support. It is time to get this thrown out once and for all.
Despite the overwhelming rejection by Oxfordshire County Council’s Planning Committee last November, the threat from Hills Quarry Products to create a quarry on land at Clifton Hampden has not gone away, and your continued support is needed.
Oxfordshire County Council’s planning officer Mary Thompson recently informed Lorraine Lyndsey Gale (the county councillor for Clifton Hampden) that Hills are intending to submit a new planning application rather than appeal the refused application to an inspector.
This fresh move from Hills suggests they do not think they can win an appeal and confirms our view – that the refused application is deeply flawed and inappropriate. The deadline for the company to mount an appeal is the end of this month.
We remain alert to any new moves from Hills and will keep you informed of further developments. Thank you for all your support thus far writing to the council to make the views of the community heard.
In accordance with the new Data Protection requirements for consent to hold your information, please be informed that unless we hear to the contrary we will continue to hold your details on our database to keep you informed of the quarry campaign. Your details will only be used for this purpose and will not be provided or published to any third parties. If, however, you wish to unsubscribe, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The four parish councils – Burcot and Clifton Hampden, Long Wittenham, Appleford and Culham – remain united in their view there is no need for a new quarry, and this is the wrong place to put one. A quarry would destroy this scenic landscape by the River Thames, causing immense harm to the Green Belt, and enjoyment of this area by residents and visitors alike.
We are delighted to report back from the Planning Committee meeting today that the quarry application has been refused. Yes, refused.
This is an excellent outcome. It is reflective of the hard work, perseverance and strength of community support that has gone into the campaign and we would like to say thank you to all those who have contributed in numerous ways over recent years.
Reasons for the quarry application refusal are as follows:
(i) The additional vehicle movements arising from the development would lead to severe highways impacts (contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework); would not maintain the safety of road users and the efficiency of the road network (contrary to the Oxfordshire Minerals & Waste Core Strategy; OMWCS) and would contribute to congestion, disruption and delays on the road network (contrary to Local Transport Plan Policy).
(ii) The additional vehicle movements arising from the development would worsen queuing at the local junctions leading to stationary vehicles with associated air emissions, causing unacceptable adverse impacts on environmental amenity (contrary to the OMWCS).
(iii) The development would prejudice the future development of a new link road and Thames crossing along one of the routes safeguarded by policy in the emerging South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2033 and the core policy of the adopted Vale of White Horse Local Plan 2031.
(iv) The development is inappropriate in the Green Belt (contrary to the OMWCS, the South Oxfordshire Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework) and no very special circumstances exist to justify making an exception to these policies.
Please can you be there to show your support
We need you. Please show your support by attending this meeting. Your support is essential to show community opposition to a planning application that has raised serious concerns on multiple levels, not least by the Council’s Highways Authority (HA), which has said the quarry would cause “severe harm” to road safety, threatens air quality and ousts plans for a much needed new road link and river crossing between Didcot and Culham.
Responding to the council’s fourth consultation on the quarry, the HA highlighted the results of recent detailed surveys and modelling work on junctions in Culham and Sutton Courtenay in connection with the development of Didcot Garden Town. It also carried out queue length surveys at the staggered crossroads of A415, B4015 and High Street at Clifton Hampden.
The Highways department is worried about “gridlock”. Principal Highways Engineer, Geoffrey Arnold, says the quarry would generate more traffic through a sensitive part of the highway network. In his response he notes; “The A415 is an important corridor in the local highway network and it is of paramount importance that appropriate priority is given to this A-road to maintain operational capacity. If exit blocking occurs at these points in the network then it can have a severe and detrimental impact on the wider highway network.”
Engineers fear queues would be slow to disperse and drivers would perform unorthodox manoeuvres. “Frustrated drivers merging and manoeuvring indiscriminately will have an adverse impact on road safety as will the increased likelihood of rear-end shunt collisions resulting from queuing, especially where forward visibility may be limited. In addition, idling vehicles would add to particulate and carbon dioxide emissions. The HA considers the traffic impact of this development would be unacceptable and will cause severe harm so as to justify the refusal of planning permission.”
Mr Arnold also has worries about an increase in lorries using the quarry travelling through Abingdon town centre. He says extra HGV movements have implications on air quality for the town and urges further consultation.
Bachport spokesman Giles Baxter comments: “The quarry company has consistently ignored the traffic problem, despite advice from the outset by the HA to avoid routing through Abingdon and to assess the signal-controlled junction at Clifton Hampden. The HA survey results come as no surprise to us and confirm our own expert’s survey of the junction.”
Highways have also objected to the quarry as it could compromise delivery of a new link road and river crossing. Mr Baxter adds: “The road and crossing is needed to alleviate the horrendous traffic that we have now, which will get significantly worse with the massive expansion of housing in Didcot. It would be madness to scupper plans for a new road in favour of a quarry that is neither needed nor wanted.”
Bachport argue that traffic is not the only reason to reject the application. “This quarry will cause permanent harm to the openness and tranquil nature of Oxford’s Green Belt and the Thames path. Demand for sand and gravel has fallen consistently over the past 30 years due to the success of aggregate recycling schemes and new marine sources. Oxfordshire has permitted sand and gravel reserves for 15-20 years, even after taking account of the increases in proposed house building. There is no justification to support the development of a new quarry in this highly sensitive location.”
You can read the full HA traffic report here: LHA Recommended Refusal of Quarry Application
In advance of the meeting on 27 November, the council has released papers which, at first glance, look promising, as refusal of the quarry application is recommended on the basis of the traffic issues. However, the quarry applicant has since met with the council and suggested ways in which quarry-generated HGV movements may be limited at peak travel times. How the Planning Committee respond to this gesture may well dictate the outcome.
We’re asking for you to show your support and opposition to the quarry by attending the meeting and reminding the decision-makers that their choices affect real people, residents and tourists alike, daily commuters, local businesses, Culham Science Centre employees, school children, the environment, the Green Belt – in a nutshell, all of us and our future for years to come.
Press coverage: Abingdon Herald
(Above) Snapshot of backed-up traffic at 4.30 pm (20 Nov) outside Culham Science Centre.
Oxfordshire County Council have launched a 4th round of public consultation on new information provided by Hills. We believe the application will go to the planning committee late 2017 or early 2018. We urge you to write and object to OCC by Thursday 2 November.
Here are the key points.
The main change is that Hills have removed the concrete plant. Don’t be fooled. This is a purely tactical move to get round Green Belt planning policy. Hills applied for a concrete plant at their new quarry in the Green Belt at Besselsleigh once planning permission for the quarry had been granted, through a ‘Permitted Development’ application, which only requires approval by OCC. No public consultation is required. Hills have retained the site for the concrete plant on their plans, together with the massive bunds, a sure sign of their true intentions.
NEW HEDGES AND TREE SCREENS
Hills have proposed lots of new hedges and tree screens to surround the site edges and the footpaths. But these will enclose the whole of the Thames Path and the diverted footpath in the vicinity of the site, such that there will be no open views to be enjoyed any more. Hills haven’t proposed to reinstate these open views for either walkers or residents when the operation is complete. These screens will destroy the openness of the Green Belt, which we think is unacceptable to public and residential amenity.
NO CHANGES TO THE ENORMOUS BUNDS
If Hills were serious about improving the landscape impact they could have reduced the length of the enormous bunds around the plant area following the removal of the concrete plant. The proposed bunds are the height and length of a street of 3-storey terraced houses and will be in-situ for the duration of the quarry. Reducing the scale of these would have a far more beneficial impact on landscape.
And in other breaking news…
See here for recent press coverage in the Oxfordshire Guardian Oct 2017
NEW RIVER CROSSING CONFLICTS WITH THE QUARRY LOCATION
Hill’s claim the objections of the planning authority and statutory consultees have now been addressed. However both South Oxfordshire District Council and OCC Highways objected to the quarry as the application fell within the area under consideration for the new river crossing. Since then SODC have released their Final Publication of the SODC Local Plan 2033 which safeguards the majority of the quarry site for the much needed road and river crossing. SODC and OCC have now applied to central government for full funding for the road scheme which, if granted, could see the road development start within 5 years. The road is much more important to Oxfordshire, the Culham Science Centre, businesses, and local residents than the quarry, so it would be madness to allow the quarry to scupper the road.
GOVERNMENT REVISE CALCULATIONS FOR NEW HOUSING SHARPLY DOWNWARD
Since Oxfordshire County Councillors voted in favour of the Minerals Plan last month which they use as justification for a new quarry, the Government have revised their calculations for future housing requirements sharply downwards. This fundamentally undermines the applicant’s case that the quarry is needed to meet additional demand.
Furthermore, the amount of sand and gravel dug up in the county fell by 15% despite forecasts by OCC to the contrary, and despite all the new houses going up. Hills claim that the quarry will produce 250,000 tonnes of material a year but the county used only 680,000 tonnes from existing five quarry sites last year, and one quarry remains mothballed! The numbers just don’t stack up – production is bound to be lower at least initially and this quarry will last not 10 years but 20 years, creating long-term environmental blight for our four villages and this beautiful area of the River Thames valley.
We urge you to write and object to OCC by Thursday 2 November.
You can do this, quoting Application Reference MW.0039/16, by:
Online: http://myeplanning2.oxfordshire.gov.uk Search for MW.0039/16
Letter: Mary Thompson, Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND
Please write even if you have objected before. OCC need to know that you still feel strongly about this application even though it has gone on for so long. In your letter, please refer to the new information and state that it does not address your concerns and your objection still stands.
Thank you so much.
Bachport Committee on behalf of the communities of Clifton Hampden, Burcot, Appleford, Culham and Long Wittenham
The window for public consultation has now closed. You can read the response developed by Bachport and appointed professional consultants on behalf of the four parish councils here: Bachport3rdResponseAugust17mdf
For more information on drainage and water-related concerns, see here: Water related concerns GWP
Further updates will be provided as and when they become available.
Bachport makes the headlines – check out the coverage in the Herald Series, in which Bachport spokesman Giles Baxter observes that, “The only reason the road is being planned along these routes is because it has to avoid the quarry. There are many reasons why a quarry should not be built there and this is another one. We are calling for plans for the quarry to be suspended whilst the problems with the road route are resolved.”
Following continued objections from consultees, Hills submitted further information on their proposal for a sand and gravel quarry with concrete processing plant in Clifton Hampden. Hills did not change the scheme and the new information provided did not address our concerns. The new information covered:
Oxfordshire County Council led a 3rd round of public consultation that ran until 3 August. Our arguments relevant to this round of consultation included:
Loss of High-Grade Agricultural Land
The new information showed a much higher loss of high-grade agricultural land than previously indicated, and this loss was not justified. This is counter to National Planning Policy.
Trees and Hedgerows
The new information did not address the presence or absence of veteran or biologically important trees, as required by National Planning Policy. Hills merely stated that they had not identified any veteran trees.
Hills refused permission for Dr David Lonsdale, a world-renowned tree expert, to access the site. Dr Lonsdale had identified 40 trees that merited further investigation. Why are Hills so worried? The survey would take less than a day and would not be intrusive or damaging. Hills should have nothing to fear from one of the country’s leading experts on trees visiting the site. Or, perhaps they do, because there are important trees, protected by National Planning Policy, that they have failed to take into account in their scheme.
Hills have been wrong before. Their initial claim was that the site contained nothing of archaeological importance following their extensive archaeological survey by professional consultants. Historic England disagreed and designated 25 hectares of the site as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Hills have also been forced to admit that their previous assessment of the agricultural value of the land was wrong.
Hills did not provide evidence or justification on why they departed from the advice given at the time of the scoping opinion. They did not address concerns regarding the impact of HGVs on existing congestion problems around the Clifton Hampden junction/lights. They continue to ignore the impact that their quarry will have on an already congested road network.
Hills provided further information on the massive bunds that they will need to construct to reduce dust and noise. They are now 10 m high in places, the height of a 3-story house. They will be prone to slumping, and difficult to maintain. This is highly obtrusive and will have a significant impact on the openness and tranquillity of the Green Belt.
In a letter to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), the Environment Agency (EA) has retained its objection to the proposed quarry. Why?
Hills’ Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) does not comply with the requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and thus doesn’t provide the right information for a full assessment of flood risks arising from the proposed development. The National Planning Policy Framework states that development should not be permitted if there are reasonably available sites appropriate for the proposed development in areas with a lower probability of flooding.
While Hills’ FRA shows some overall increase in volume of flood plain storage under some conditions, they have not demonstrated how they could compensate for the loss of flood plain storage in other conditions.
The FRA allows for small events in climate change but does not factor in larger events. Hills need to show how they will prevent the proposed development reducing flood plain storage and displacing flood waters, thereby increasing flood risk elsewhere.
Assessment and mitigation of the risks to nature conservation are inadequate. Hills’ survey has not identified current records for water voles or otters, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The EA states: “Water voles have not been found at the site but potential otter lying-up sites have. The loss of these areas and the impact of increased disturbance hasn’t been addressed through the phasing of quarry activities, nor the mitigation measures.”
Hills have not provided satisfactory clarification on watercourse and ecological mitigation. They have not answered the EA’s questions on grassland and hydrology, and need to rectify their contradictory statement regarding the use of artificial flood lighting. Inconsistencies in bund height and missing figures in their application have also been flagged for attention.
With regards to post-quarry restoration plans, the EA points out that the proposed lake for sailing/boating/fishing appears to be missing infrastructure to support it; there are no fishing platforms, access tracks or paths, slipways, site office or facilities marked on Hills’ plans.
Bachport spokesman Giles Baxter said: “We welcome the stance taken by the Environment Agency. We are also pleased that the EA have reminded OCC that development should not be permitted if there are other reasonably available sites in areas with a lower probability of flooding. This site is self-evidently at high risk – it floods regularly now, and this quarry could make flooding worse. Oxfordshire does not need another quarry for 15–20 years and we maintain our position that OCC should identify sustainable sites for mineral extraction that are at lower risk from flooding before this application is considered.”
Our response to the Additional Information (AI) from Hills has been submitted to OCC; a copy is available here: Bachport Response Addntl Info Mar 2017
In short, Hills has not provided the necessary information and OCC should not determine the application until they have done so.
We and our professional advisors reviewed the AI supplied: it has not changed the substance of the proposal and there are still very strong grounds on which the application should be rejected.
OCC requested Winter viewpoints of the site. These have still not been supplied. Thus the landscape and visual assessment remains inadequate, and fails to properly assess the potential harm of the quarry, which will be significant and irreversible.
A full survey of trees and hedgerows has now been supplied and confirms all trees and hedgerows scheduled for removal are significant for their landscape and conservation value, and should be retained within the design of the development.
Soil sample data for assessment of agricultural land value has now been supplied and shows that, contrary to their submission statements, the majority of land is ‘best and most versatile’ (BMV). More than 2.5 x the amount of BMV land they claimed is lost is actually lost on restoration. This contravenes national and local policy requirements to preserve BMV land.
Existing (i.e. ‘quarry-free’) noise readings were required from neighbouring properties to the proposed site. These were much lower than expected so Hills would need to put in higher, longer bunds to shield residents from the extra noise. However, in terms of landscape impact, such a size would be unacceptable.
Long Wittenham residents cannot be protected from noise by bunds along the southern edge of the site because bunds here would impede the land’s natural floodwater capacity.
Hills haven’t addressed a single one of our water consultant’s concerns, some of which are ‘fundamental’ planning issues. They have provided more modelling, which has shown (a) they can’t accurately predict flood events, and (b) an increase in flood risk during some stages of quarry working. They also haven’t properly assessed effects on the Lower Greensand aquifer (under the sand and gravel layer), which runs underneath the science centre and railway line.
Bachport and the Culham Science Centre concerns about traffic impacts have been dismissed without presenting any evidence to support Hills’ assertions that traffic impacts are minimal. They dismissed our traffic survey (which showed significant additional traffic delay at the village junction) as lacking independence, even though it was conducted by Paul Silcock, an expert in signal modelling. Our survey remains valid until they produce actual evidence to contradict our assessment.
There was a distinct paucity of ecology survey work with the initial application, and further survey work was required including bats (they are a National and European protected species). While Hills suggested the site was unlikely to have any significant bat interest, the survey shows the site is actually used by 8/14 Oxfordshire bat species, some of which are rare for Oxfordshire. Loss of mature vegetation would have a significant impact on this bat population yet has not been adequately addressed in Hills mitigation proposals.
Hills have suggested the new planting on restoration will be ‘mature’ in 15 years; an ironic assessment when their Arboricultural survey suggests that many of the oaks, ash, poplar and willow proposed for removal, and which have been present for more than 150 years, form mostly ‘early mature’ vegetation.
There is no need for this quarry to meet the county’s sand and gravel requirements. The OCC Minerals and Waste Plan is still being formulated. Sales figures show the need for sand and gravel has already fallen over the Plan’s period. The landbank of existing reserves is more than sufficient for at least another 13 years. Any favourable determination of this quarry at this time would pre-empt the emerging Plan, and would be directly contrary to government policy that major development should be Plan-led.
Oxfordshire County Council have begun a 2nd round of public consultation on the quarry. The planning decision will depend on this consultation response. Please can you WRITE AGAIN by 1ST MARCH.
If you previously objected, please write again or resend your letter. Say nothing has changed from the new information and repeat your objections.
Post: Gemma Crossley, Environment & Planning, Speedwell House,
Speedwell St, Oxford OX1 1NE.
Reference: MW.0039/16 Fullamoor Quarry.
If you haven’t written before and would like to, now’s your chance. Bachport have set out a strong case for refusal – we need this supported with your objections. Your email today may take a minute or two but could affect the countryside and the local community for the next 10 to 25 years. You can make a difference. Together, the community can make a difference.
Thank you for your continued support.
Hills have now come back with the additional information requested by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) last August. The initial quarry application failed to provide essential information on a number of key areas. Second time around and Hills have still not done a good job.
Firstly, the required information is incomplete and there are at least 6 areas where Hills have not provided the information requested by OCC. We have written to OCC pointing out these deficiencies. Why are Hills treating the process with contempt?
Secondly, and true to form, Hills have made the new information deliberately difficult to find and analyse. It is buried within a mix of 60 new and revised documents (without tracked changes). What have they got to hide?
As an example, some information on trees is now provided (glaringly absent in the original submission); however, it is still not clear which veteran trees will be saved and which are for the chop, and the maps provided are unreadable. Why not just be clear?
Bachport Is Fighting Fit
Bachport and its advisors are painstakingly analysing the new information and preparing our own submission for this second round of consultation. We continue to have a strong case and strong support for getting this planning application rejected.
Representatives of the 4 parish councils have met and remain united in their opposition. We have successfully done a second round of fundraising to pay for our advisors, and have a dedicated core team in addition to nearly 850 registered supporters.
You Can Make a Difference
In the first consultation more than 600 letters and emails were sent to OCC protesting about this unwelcome development. The scale of local opposition was certainly noticed by OCC.
The deadline for this second round of public consultation is March 1st
Please could you take the time to write a short email of your objection to OCC at the address below, even if you have done so before. It really does make a difference.
OCC application ref: MW.0039/16
There are so many reasons to object to this application: destruction of the landscape, creation of massive 10 m bunds (the height of 3-storey houses) in the green belt, the removal of most trees and hedgerows, traffic congestion, noise, dust and increased risk of flooding. The new information supplied by Hills doesn’t answer the questions we and other bodies raised in the first round of consultation.
The winner of the Bachport Visual Arts Competition is Tim Widdowson for his beautiful and haunting watercolour, Dust to Dust. Congratulations to Tim, thank you and congratulations to all our runners up: Primrose Baxter, Eirian Griffiths and Camilla Seaward and to all our entrants. Thank you to our judges Clare Owen, editor of The Bridge, Giles Harvey, filmmaker and Gary Cooper of Fabulous Flowers.
In response to the request by Oxfordshire County Council for further information, Hills Quarry Products have submitted their revised plans for the sand and gravel quarry between Clifton Hampden and Culham.
The Bachport committee is in the process of assessing these plans, working in conjunction with the parish councils of Clifton Hampden/Burcot, Long Wittenham, Culham and Appleford. We will be in touch soon with all our supporters on what’s changed and how, through public consultation, you can help fight this blight on the landscape and our community.
Please keep an eye out for emails from us. If you aren’t currently on our mailing list, please email us at email@example.com
For your information, the revised application materials can be viewed on http://myeplanning2.oxfordshire.gov.uk under the same reference as before, MW.0039/16.
The photo/picture/painting competition for your artistic expressions of how you feel about the prospect of a gravel pit and concrete plant being built on the Oxfordshire Green Belt, overlooking the beautiful, tranquil River Thames and the Thames path, has now closed. A big thank you to all who contributed for your inspired entries.
The judges are Clare Owen, editor of The Bridge, Gary Cooper, owner of Fabulous Flowers in Abingdon and filmmaker Giles Harvey of Luttrell Productions. Information will be available in due course of the winning entries.
The Barley Mow has very generously donated a fantastic dinner for two (all food and drink included), which is first prize for the Adult section.
The two winning entries will appear on the front and back cover of The Bridge.
All runners up will receive a Bachport #sorrybutNOquarry T shirt.
August 2016 News Update
Read BBC South Today coverage here: Culham Science Centre Voices Concerns
Listen to BBC Radio Oxford here: Culham Science Centre Fears Dust Impact
Read Oxford Guardian coverage here: Scientists Add to Fears Over Plan for Quarry
Crucial work on seeking a new source of clean energy at the Culham Science Centre could be damaged by dust from a proposed sand and gravel quarry says a report to Oxfordshire County Council.
Hills Quarry Products wants to create a huge quarry on Greenbelt land alongside the Thames at Clifton Hampden but the plans have been met with a storm of protests. The Culham Science Centre (CSC) is opposite the quarry.
CSC is the leading UK centre for fusion research and technology and is of international importance in the quest for a new source of clean energy. It says the air quality threat posed by the proposed quarry has not been sufficiently addressed.
In its letter of objection to the county council which is considering the plans and objections CSC says: “CSC is home to a wide range of science and technology based projects, often operating sensitive equipment which could be affected adversely by wind borne dust from the proposed quarry.”
The Culham site is part of South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy for redevelopment and research and science based businesses supporting up to 1,000 new jobs. It is one of the cornerstones of the council’s employment strategy and a major part of the Science Vale cluster of science and technology businesses.
CSC’s letter says: “The Environmental Impact Assessment submitted by the applicant completely fails to recognise the importance of CSC, and completely fails to assess the impact that the quarry might have on the site and its tenant organisations. This is a fatal omission on the part of the applicant and the submitted document should not be accepted.”
And the Environment Agency (EA) has also landed a blow on the quarry plan. It says the assessment and mitigation of the risks to nature conservation are inadequate. The Agency says: “We will maintain our objection until the applicant has supplied information to demonstrate that the risks posed by the development can be satisfactorily addressed.”
It says that the scope and timings of the ecological survey work carried out are inadequate, in particular for foraging and commuting, water voles, otters and grass snakes. The EA says the Thames needs protecting with a 25 m fenced buffer and pollution protection measures.
“The scope and timings of the ecological survey work carried out are inadequate, in particular for roosting, foraging and commuting bats, reptiles, great-crested newt and breeding and wintering birds.
No mitigation measures have been proposed for wintering birds or bats, despite the loss of habitat such as woodland, hedgerows, arable land and ditches. The mitigation measures for badgers and other mammals are inadequate.”
The EA cites the county council’s own policy which states that mineral working or waste disposal “should not harm the immediate setting and nature conservation value of the River Thames and other watercourses of significant visual or nature conservation value, or canals.”