BACHPORT: Actively campaigning to protect our local countryside

Burcot & Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames

NEWS Oct 2015

Planning Application Imminent

The threat of a massive gravel pit between the villages of Clifton Hampden and Burcot, Long Wittenham, Appleford and Culham is now much closer. Hills Quarry Products have confirmed they will submit a planning application early in the New Year. They will write to our Parish Councils soon and plan to hold a public exhibition in November. This is an unwelcome development that will have a significant impact on all the surrounding villages.

Key to getting this planning application rejected is a strong evidence based case backed up with strong community support. Fortunately, we have both. A lot of preparatory work has been done and professional advisors retained in key subject areas. Bachport is well organised, backed by all the Parish Councils and has nearly 700 registered supporters (quite a significant proportion of the population of the 4 surrounding villages).

We will share details of our case with you over the coming months and we shall be asking you for help. Please watch out for these messages and join the community in responding and taking action. Your support can make the difference.

The Bachport team of volunteers have continued to work over the summer to prepare the strongest possible case.

OXAGE

Under the banner of OXAGE (Oxfordshire Against Gravel Extraction), Bachport worked with all of the other ʻanti-gravelʼ groups across Oxfordshire and CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) to prepare a report for the Inspector of the OCC Minerals and Waste Local Plan (the Plan), which was recently out for consultation. The OXAGE report makes a strong case that the Plan is not legally compliant, is unsound, and vastly overstates the need for gravel within Oxfordshire.

The following graph, which shows the 30+ year trends for various UK outputs, was prepared by Bachport and is included in the report. What it shows is both counter-intuitive and contrary to what we are always told (i.e. to support growth we need to dig up more sand and gravel).

Graph for Bachport Autumn 2015 article

The facts show that despite large increases in population (+14%), construction output (+38%) and real gross domestic product (+108%), land-won sand and gravel output has almost halved (–44%). Growth is using much LESS sand and gravel. The same trends are true for Oxfordshire. The drivers for this decline are detailed in the report and include a massive growth in the availability of recycled aggregate. The report shows that Oxfordshire already has more than enough permitted gravel reserves to support growth and does not need any new gravel pits.

John Howell MP, OCC, SODC and Parish councillors have all supported our report.

The full OXAGE report, produced by Gardner Planning on behalf of all constituent members of OXAGE (© Gardner Planning Ltd) can be downloaded here: OXAGE Report (Gardner Planning Ltd)

Archaeology

An early success of Bachport was to get a significant section of the proposed site designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) of national importance, which means this area of the site cannot be dug. Two further applications have been made. The first is to consolidate the existing SAM into a more regular shape and incorporate some additional adjacent archaeological features. This would increase the area of the SAM from c.11 to c.14 hectares (c. +25%). It is still being considered and we are quite hopeful. The second was a new application to protect other archaeological features on the site but unfortunately was rejected. We are considering whether to appeal this decision.

Road Route

A consultation on the proposed route was expected in the summer; however, the latest from OCC is that the report on the new road is ʻbeing finalisedʼ and will be considered by councillors in ‘the next couple of monthsʼ and, if all goes well, the route will go to public consultation ʻbefore Christmasʼ.

Of the four routes originally considered for crossing the river two were ruled out because of strong archaeological objections and so only two routes have been taken forward to explore in more detail. A funding application for a further road (the Clifton Hampden bypass) north of the A415 has been made to Central Government and will also be decided before Christmas. Local councillors seem generally bullish about the prospects for the project.

Could the first step towards traffic relief be a welcome Christmas present this year?

Other Proposed Sites

Grundon have announced their intention to make a planning application in early 2016 to extract sand and gravel from New Barn Farm near Cholsey. They are currently engaging in community consultation.

If you have any questions or suggestions for us please email bachport@btinternet.com.

Thank you for your continued support.

Bachport

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