Tree Expert Banned In Quarry Row

A world-renowned tree expert has been banned from investigating ancient trees on land threatened by the quarry plan near Clifton Hampden.

Bachport – an alliance of local villages and individuals – has drafted in leading arboriculterist David Lonsdale to study the site but Hills has refused him access.  Mr Lonsdale has identified 40 trees for further investigation.

The presence or absence of veteran or biologically important trees must be considered under national planning policy guidelines.  Hills says it has “not identified any veteran trees”.

Bachport spokesman Giles Baxter said: “What have Hills to hide?  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.”

“Maybe the company is worried because the trees are important, protected by national planning directives.  It looks as if Hills has failed to take it into account the trees in their scheme.”

Mr Baxter says Hills has been wrong before.  The company said that following an archaeological survey by professional consultants the site contained nothing of archaeological importance.  Historic England disagreed and designated 25 hectares of the site as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Oxfordshire County Council has launched a third round of public consultation with a deadline of 3rd August.  The council’s planning committee might discuss the issue at its September meeting but may not have collated sufficient feed-back in time and the issue could be pushed back towards the end of the year.

Bachport urges people to write to Oxfordshire County Council even if they have written before.  The group adds: “In your letter, please refer to the new information and state that it does not address your concerns and your objection still stands.”

Bachport argues that Hills do not address the issue of traffic through Abingdon and the A415 through Clifton Hampden.  The protest group says Hills is required to make a commitment not to route any quarry traffic through the centre of Abingdon.

Protestors say Hills has not met its obligations on traffic issues and continues to ignore the impact a quarry would have on an already congested road network.  Bachport says the company should conduct an analysis of the impact of quarry traffic on Clifton Hampden junction.

In Hill’s latest submission, the bunds around the site needed to protect local residents from dust and noise have been increased to 10m, the height of a three-storey house.  Protesters say these will be “visually intrusive, difficult to maintain, and prone to slumping”.

Bachport says the new information shows that there will be a much higher loss of high-grade agricultural land than previously indicated.   Natural England has challenged Hills to justify the loss, which is against national planning policy.

The deadline for objections is 3rd August.  The reference is MW.0039/16. Send objections to: mary.thompson@oxfordshire.gov.uk or by letter to Mary Thompson, Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND.

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