Bachport Meeting Report

Villagers Back Anti-Quarry Fight

Almost 100 people packed into Clifton Hampden village hall (April 20) to hear why a huge sand and gravel quarry should not be developed on Green Belt land near the village.

The anti-quarry group Bachport – Burcot and Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames – outlined its case to the public as pressure grows on Oxfordshire County Council to reject the application by Hills Quarry Products.

Over ten years Hills wants to extract sand and gravel and establish a concrete processing plant on an area of land the size of 165 soccer pitches.  Bachport believes Hills will extend the quarry’s lifespan but the company denies the claim.

A planning application has been lodged with the county council and the public has until May 13 to send in their views before planning officers make a recommendation to councillors.  Bachport chairman Ian Mason told the meeting: “Our goal is to get this application rejected but we can’t do it without the support of the public.

“We urge you to send your concerns to the county council to stop this appalling plan. It will desecrate a peaceful part of the countryside and there will be long-term implications for communities.”

Among the audience was the leader of South Oxfordshire District Council John Cotton, county councillors Lorraine Lindsay-Gale and Lynda Atkins, district councillor Sue Lawson, Vale of White Horse District councillor Gervaise Duffield and parish council representatives from Long Wittenham, Appleford and Culham. Hills was not represented.

The opposition campaign has the support of MPs John Howell (Henley) and Ed Vaizey (Wantage) and the latest to join the ranks is Abingdon Town Council.  The town council’s planning committee opposes the quarry plan.

Committee member Jan Morter said businesses and residents were worried about the impact of heavy lorries travelling through Abingdon’s already congested centre.  She said: “Even just one such lorry during the rush hour can affect the traffic flow and we are deeply concerned about the effects of yet more pollution.”

There would be more than 110 lorry movements in and out of the quarry six days a week, a lorry every six minutes.  About 60 per-cent would travel east for the Oxford ring road and the rest would go west via Abingdon to access the A34.

Bachport is to carry out its own traffic survey at peak morning and evening times to show that an already busy main road (A415) would be overwhelmed particularly at the cross roads in Clifton Hampden and at the bridge.

Mr Mason said: “We need people to step forward and help our survey. We need hard facts to build up a strong, evidence-based case.  The attendance at our meeting showed just how worried people are about the threat of a quarry.”

Hill says there’s a need for more aggregates to support the growing house-building programme in the county but Bachport argues that the county has years of supply and no more is needed.  Flooding is another area of concern if a quarry is developed.

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