Plans for the sand and gravel quarry between Clifton Hampden and Culham could be discussed by members of Oxfordshire County Council’s planning committee towards the end of April but an exact date is awaiting confirmation.
The closing date for objections on the most recent consultation was 1st March. Now county council planners are scrutinising revised plans from Hills Quarry Products along with hundreds of objections lodged by opponents. A report and recommendations will be drawn up for county councillors to debate the controversial issue.
Long Wittenham, Burcot and Clifton Hampden, Appleford and Culham Parish Councils are lined up in opposition. Hills has revised its original plans, reducing the operational time scale from twenty-five to ten years and extraction tonnage from 5m tonnes to 2.5m.
But the new plans continue to attract fierce opposition. The proposed quarry is set in the Green Belt alongside the Thames and Thames Path in a scenic and tranquil area of the countryside popular with walkers.
Both Long and Little Wittenham joined Bachport – Burcot and Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames – at the outset in opposition to the quarry. The issue has been discussed at parish council meetings.
According to Long Wittenham parish council chairman Steve Brown nothing has changed. The council’s previous objections stand despite the company’s scaled down plans. The council supports objections about noise and dust from the quarry operation.
Noise surveys by Hills were taken at the Three Poplars mobile homes park and in Saxons Heath – well away from the side of the village just across the river from the quarry site.
Mr Brown said: “The noise surveys should have been taken near the river properties which have not been surveyed correctly. They have not taken into account the likely impact on the worst affected properties in the village. No survey has been carried out to measure the impact on properties near the village church and school. This appears to be a serious omission.”
Mr Brown said the council was very concerned that no mitigation measures could be provided between the proposed quarry and the river frontage as this would affect flood prevention.
“This means there will be no protection from noise and dust for our side of the river making the impact even more severe. Long Wittenham Parish Council continues to object in the strongest possible terms to these proposals. We hope county planners will recommend that councillors throw out these unwanted proposals which if approved will scar a beautiful part of the local countryside.”
Bachport spokeman Giles Baxter said “This quarry is wholly unsuitable in this unspoilt area of the Thames Valley. It will be an environmental catastrophe in the heart of the Green Belt. Hills propose wholesale destruction of ancient woodland and remove habitats for protected species.”
“They propose to build 10m high earth walls to reduce noise and dust – that’s the height of a three-story house. Hills claim that this will not adversely affect the open, rural and tranquil nature of this ancient farming landscape, which is utter nonsense. The county council’s Minerals and Waste Local Plan is the correct place to determine the requirement and location of new sites. Oxfordshire has no need for a new quarry for the foreseeable future and we hope the councillors will reject this proposal.”