Monday, 24 November 2008

OCC Planning Committee Meeting - 24th November

This is to let you all know that the OCC Planning Committee met this afternoon to discuss the above application. After much debate the application was rejected (8 votes to 6).

Thank you to all of you who turned out this afternoon to hear the debate. Thank you to all of you who have supported this campaign in so many ways. All your support over past months has been greatly appreciated.

Let us enjoy this moment ...

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Update from Outrage

Message from Outrage

We now have confirmation that the Stonehenge Farm application will be considered by the OCC Planning and Regulation Committee on Monday November 24th, despite the fact that the WODC Strategic Flood Review is not yet ready and hasn't been published. The committee's resolution on July 21st was that consideration of this application should be deferred 'until such time as the WODC Strategic Flood Review was published'. The officers recommend that this resolution should be rescinded. Outrage's solicitors have written to the County Council and our barrister will be addressing the Planning and Regulation Committee on the day. For further information, take a look at You can access the Nov. 24th Agenda and the officers' recommendation at


It is very important that the committee should be exposed to public scrutiny on November 24th. If they decide to overturn their previous resolutions we should make sure that they do so in the public gaze. November 24th may be our last opportunity to defeat an application which may increase the risk of flooding and which will destroy our countryside.


Our Fundraising campaign has been a great success. The attempt to nullify the majority votes of the OCC Planning Committee means that legal representation is now more important than ever. Your contributions have made it possible for OUTRAGE to instruct both our solicitors and our QC. We want to thank everyone who has helped in any way - by giving donations, by buying and selling raffle tickets and by buying Family Fundraiser tickets. There are still tickets available for this event. It'll be a great evening out, with wonderful food, music and dancing - and of course the Grand Raffle Draw with lots of fantastic prizes. Please come along and bring your friends. More information on

Julie Hankey

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Newbridge - Flood Alert!

The Thames has burst its banks and flooded the fields at Newbridge this morning.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Flood Watch Today

The River Windrush Catchment

Flood Watch

Page last updated: 08:11 on 10-Nov-2008
Flood status checked every 15 minutes.

Current status:

Flood Watch

Status last changed at:

08:11 on 10-Nov-2008


The River Windrush from Bourton-on-the-Water to Newbridge and its tributaries

Stonehenge Farm - Proposed Site & Floodmap

For more information look at

Friday, 7 November 2008

Job losses at HeidelbergCement

Heidelberg slashes over 4,000 jobs in UK and US

Issue date: November 6th, 2008

Globally, HeidelbergCement reduced its headcount from 68,783 to 64,638 over the year to September, with the majority of workers being culled from operations in the slowing economies of North America and the UK, the German company’s third quarter report highlights.

Following its acquisition of Hanson and as a result of slowing growth in the housing market in the two countries, 4,145 jobs were cut “…essentially from location optimisations and capacity adjustments in North America and the United Kingdom,” the report states.

The number of employees at the company on 30 September across Europe numbered 28,873, down from 31,663 the previous September. Meanwhile, the North America headcount fell 1,865 over the same period to 17,970.

The company is seeking to generate savings of €250million a year with its Fitness 2009 program, the full effects of which it expects will come next year, suggesting further headcount reductions could be announced over the coming months. Hanson and Castle Cement in the UK have already announced a range of jobs losses.

HeidelbergCement has been hit hard in the UK and the US. In late October ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor downgraded the company’s credit rating to sub-investment grade because of the lack of activity in the UK and North America, as well as a lack of further disposals and difficult refinancing conditions.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Message from OUTRAGE

You can now buy tickets for the OUTRAGE Family Fundraiser and Grand Raffle
Draw by following this link:

You can also get to the ticket sales page by following the link from our new
campaign page:

The number of tickets will be limited by the capacity of Northmoor Village
Hall, so please buy early to avoid disappointment.

Hot supper, disco, grand raffle draw, many prizes and a chance to help the
OUTRAGE campaign!

Friday, 31 October 2008


Latest News

Gloom deepens for UK quarry firms

Issue date: October 30th, 2008

Further job losses and mothballing of operations could be necessary across UK quarrying firms as they prepare for worse conditions than during the 1991 recession, according to new figures.

The latest Quarry Products Association (QPA) sales statistics show ready-mix sales fell 21% during the third quarter compared with the same period last year, with sand and gravel sales falling by 17% and crushed rock by 15%.

As if suddenly hitting a wall, Q3 sales fell at a rate not seen since the 1991 downturn. However, warns the QPA, pre-credit crunch market conditions are set to make the effect of the slowdown much worse.

“The accelerating decline in demand seen in Q3 indicates that for 2008 the rate of annual decline of aggregates and concrete volumes will be similar to the 1991 recession – but the fundamental difference in this comparison is that the early 1990s recession followed historically high volumes in the late 1980s, but the current market decline is from much more modest volume base.

“There will be further significant declines in aggregates and concrete markets in 2009 as the downturn in construction output worsens,” it said.

The use of ready-mix and aggregates are often weighted towards the earlier stages of construction projects, says the QPA, and so the decline reflects not just the problems in the housing markets, but also the lack of new work elsewhere in construction, notably in the commercial and industrial sectors.

Bucking the trend, asphalt sales have been steady through 2008. The figures show between January and September this year sales grew by one percent compared with the same period last year – Q3 figures, however, show a decline of two percent.

The QPA said it anticipates a “…significant decline in asphalt demand…given the small number of major roads contracts in progress and inadequate local highways funding”.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Message from OUTRAGE

We have now had confirmation from WODC that the Final 2007 Flood Report will not be published in time for the OCC Planning and Regulation Committee meeting of October 20th. OCC have therefore removed the Stonehenge Farm application from the draft agenda for that meeting. They hope to have it on the agenda for November 24th.

Meanwhile, OUTRAGE are gearing up the campaign. We have sought the opinion of a QC with experience of minerals applications and have been advised by him that we have a good case against Oxfordshire County Council. Together with the firm of solicitors who have advised us in our case against the Environment Agency, our QC will write a legal opinion on our behalf to all members of the OCC Planning and Regulation committee and will address the committee on the day itself.

All this will cost - but OUTRAGE believes that it will be a sum well worth paying. As laymen we have little power to move a Council so determined to favour this application. If we are to be taken seriously, our arguments need to be delivered by professional lawyers. For maximum impact, we believe that our QC is the man for the job.

WE appeal to you to help us raise the necessary funds. Our four-year campaign against gravel extraction at Stonehenge Farm is now facing its greatest challenge. The possibility of increased flood risk hangs in the balance, together with the fate of our roads, footpaths and countryside. We need to show that we are serious, that our opposition is real and that we will not be rolled over.

As part of our fund-raising campaign we are arranging a Grand Raffle with a top prize of £500, plus other prizes including a case of wine from the Oxford Wine Company’s own vineyard donated by Ted Sandbach, a Northmoor lamb (ready to freeze) donated by Julia & Graham Shelton, a meal for four at the Black Horse, Standlake, donated by Andy & Debbie Jones, a round of golf at Frilford Golf Club donated by Luke List, and a meal for two with a bottle of champagne at Pierre Victoire in Little Clarendon Street, donated by Claire Harvey. Many thanks to all our donors.

Raffle tickets will be £2 a ticket and the Grand Draw will take place on the evening of November 22nd at Northmoor Village Hall – details to follow shortly.

A prize of chocolates and champagne will be given to whoever sells the most tickets.

Monetary donations of any amount, large or small, would be very much appreciated.

They should be made payable to OUTRAGE and sent to our Treasurer:

John Downes, Greenfields, Church Road, Northmoor, Witney, Oxon, OX29 5SX



Monday, 29 September 2008

Hanson - More Closures

Latest News

Asphalt plants and quarries to close at Hanson

Issue date: September 24th, 2008

Six asphalt plants at Heidelberg-owned Hanson are facing the axe as are as many as 10 quarries as the company struggles to fight the effects of the downturn.

Asphalt operations facing closure are Gwalchmi in Anglesey, Pottall Pool in Cannock, Clee Hill in Shropshire, Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, Penderyn near Aberdare, and Machen near Caerphilly.

Any closures are dependent on review, however, Hanson spokesperson David Weeks told MQR today that given the weakened state of the forward order book closure was likely. Around two-three jobs will be lost at each site with production in each area moving to a nearby site.

Hanson is also looking to close up to ten quarries in response to the downturn. The majority (six or seven, says Weeks) will come from operations at the end of their reserves including Cassington in Oxford and Trentham in Stoke-on-Trent.

The news comes as the company confirmed further brickwork job losses along with the closure of a kiln and three cement mills at its Castle Cement Ketton operation.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Minerals Quarrying & Recycling Magazine (MQR)

Latest News

Lafarge UK set to mothball quarries

Issue date: September 18th, 2008

As the effects of the credit crunch continue to amplify across the construction products market, Lafarge UK says it will be mothballing quarries, which could lead to further industry job losses.

Following a slump in demand across the quarry products sector, which has led to both Tarmac and Cemex announcing job losses, Lafarge UK told MQR today it was too cutting back on production but that details had yet to be finalised.

The French-owned company said in a statement: “Mothballing of some sites will be necessary, but exactly when and which sites depends on varying local market conditions.

“We may well be bringing forward the closure of some sites which are nearing the end of their natural life, and needless to say we are monitoring each of our operations very closely.”

The group’s interim report at the beginning of August recorded an 11% fall in UK revenues during H1 compared with the same period in 2007. Gypsum, cement, concrete and aggregates fell from €734million (£583million) during the same period in 2007, to €653million (£514million).

These results compare with the other Lafarge Group Western European operations in France and Spain that experienced growth of £55million (€70million) and £12million (€15million) respectively over the same period.

The United States was the only other operation to experience losses with revenues falling from £1,031million (€1,309million) to £780.5million (€991million) over the period.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Britain's Summer of Miserable Weather

June 27: The Association of British Insurers said the overall cost of the floods would run into hundreds of millions and urged government to improve flood defences.

July 6: The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters (CILA) calculated that domestic claims from the June floods would reach £825m, while those from businesses would be £680m.

July 22: Environment Secretary Hilary Benn defended the Government's response to the floods and Environment Agency chief executive Baroness Young said £1bn a year was needed to prevent future flooding.

Oxford floods ...

Oxford floods deepen as more rain is forecast

By Richard Edwards
1 of 2 Images
Allotments in Oxford as the floods extended into the Thames Valley
Allotments in Oxford. In pictures: UK under water: Oxon | Worcs | Glos

Flooding may have caused greater devastation in affected areas than the foot and mouth crisis, farmers warned last night, as the floods extended throughout the Thames Valley.

Oxford became the latest area hit yesterday and parts of the city will be left under water for two days.

There are further fears with forecasters predicting up to half an inch of rain today in some areas already suffering.

The worst floods in modern history have now stretched more than 150 miles along the Severn and Thames from western England towards London.

Farmers in the worst-hit areas of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire said it could take three years to recover from the disaster and said the impact could be worse than that of foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.

David Fursdon, President of the Country Land and Business Association, said: "In affected areas it could be worse than foot and mouth disease as in this situation there's no automatic right to compensation. One farmer has lost 200 acres of arable crops and many are battling to save their livestock."

The National Farmers' Union has drawn up a list in Gloucestershire alone of 20 high-risk farms. Dozens of dairies - which require up to 10,000 litres of water a day - are under threat and farmers are using winter supplies to survive. Entire summer crops have also been wiped out, which are likely to send food prices soaring. Ian Johnston, of the NFU, said: "We are facing a complete catastrophe."

Oxfordshire became the focus of the continuing flood crisis. Emergency rescues were carried out at 250 homes in west Oxford in the early hours and authorities confirmed 900 homes in the county have now been flooded.

Emergency services battled successfully to save the Osney Mead electricity sub-station, which provides power to most of the city.

However, 200 people off Abingdon Road, one of the main routes into the city, had their power supplies cut last night and are not likely to be reconnected until later today.

The developments came despite Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, announcing in the Commons on Tuesday that he "anticipated no additional, significant flooding in Oxfordshire".

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said he was surprised by the error. He said: "Why did the Government and the Environment Agency get that prediction wrong? These floods are not 1 in 40 year occurrences, since this has now happened three years in eight."

Monday, 15 September 2008

OCC Planning Committee - Future Dates

Dates for your Diary

The WODC Final Report on the Summer Floods of July 2007 is due to be published on 15th October. It is likely therefore that the application will be discussed at County Hall on Monday 20 October. Failing that, the next Planning Committee meeting is on Monday 24 November.

Please note these dates. Your support is VITAL.

Further details will be posted as they become available.

Countryside Alliance CE speaks out on Flooding

Flooding should be treated on the same level as terrorism or a flu pandemic

The official Government report into the 2007 floods, led by Sir Michael Pitt, suggested the much needed infrastructure that will reduce the impact of flooding - but this could take months, even years to implement. While medium and long-term plans must be put in place to ensure adequate defences, it is in the short term that the misery is most apparent. The Pitt report suggests that flooding should be treated on the same level as terrorism or a flu pandemic. Fair, when you consider the floods of 2007 were not only the most serious inland flooding that England and Wales had experienced since 1947, but were ranked as the most financially costly floods in the world for that year.
With over 11,000 people still living in temporary accommodation owing to 2007's floods, we can ill afford this latest blow. Rural Britain's tenacity is being tested to the limit, and supporting our communities has never been more important.
Simon Hart
Chief Executive

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Flood Alert

The River Windrush Catchment
Received at: Location:
Flood Watch
10:37 on 09-Sep-2008
The River Windrush from Bourton-on-the-Water to Newbridge and its tributaries

Monday, 8 September 2008

Minerals Quarrying & Recycling Magazine

Latest News

Hanson loses Hope in Flintshire

Issue date: September 3rd, 2008

Councillors in Flintshire have thwarted Hanson’s application to modify conditions on its existing permission to quarry sand and gravel from Fagl Lane quarry in Hope, leaving the Heidelberg-owned company to assess its way forward.

Non-operational for three years and now up for sale, the quarry is at the centre of a definitions tug of war with Flintshire County Council over whether the site was closed for good in 2004 or whether it was simply mothballed.

The council says a letter sent by Hanson when it closed the quarry states the operation had ceased and so the quarry firm should get on with restoration – a condition in the permission says if work stops for a year then restoration has to begin.

Hanson, which is not seeking to work the site, maintains the operation has simply been mothballed and seeks to modify the conditions for work to potentially begin again. However, the planning committee yesterday rejected the application.

A planning official for Flintshire Council told MQR today: “It was the view of the committee that the site had been abandoned and so needed to be restored. Although there was a balance between those for and against.

“We need to make provision for sand and gravel and as quarries go this is the least problematic site around. But there was a feeling that patience had been tested on this matter. Hanson has no intention of working the site.”

Hanson can now appeal the decision, take the financial hit of starting to restore the site while they find a buyer or simply take the view that a change in permission is not needed because the site has simply been mothballed, the planner said.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Daily Telegraph - 30th August 2008

Growing flood risks

Sir - I recently attended a meeting called by the Environment Agency to discuss the final draft of the North Essex Catchment Flood Management Plan. It covers the maintenance of watercourses on nearly 750,000 acres of farmland, through 14 towns and innumerable villages.

After four years' work on the project the agency gave one week's written notice of a meeting. The 600-page report arrived one working day beforehand. Present were the contractor, three agency staff, three professional environmentalists and one member of the public (myself) to represent the views of the 2,504 homes and 400 plus businesses at risk from river flooding.

In all areas, apart from three towns, we have been told to expect an increased risk of flooding.

If I were Ken Wilkins (Letters, August 28th), I would not rely on the Environment Agency unless I was a water vole or great crested newt.

Andrew St Joseph
Tollesbury, Essex

Letter published 30th August 2008

Flood Watch today

The River Windrush Catchment

Page last updated: 15:27 on 04-Sep-2008

Current status

Flood Watch

(Flooding of low lying land and

roads is expected.)

Status last changed at:

15:27 on 04-Sep-2008


The River Windrush from


to Newbridge and its tributaries

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Parish Flood Report Roadshows

West Oxfordshire District Council will be holding four Parish Flood Report Road Shows in September as follows:

1) 9th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at New Beaconsfield Hall, Shipton –under-Wychwood, for the north of the District

Covering: Salford, Chipping Norton, Cornwell, Kingham, Little Tew, Enstone, Chadlington, Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Milton-under-Wychwood, Shipton-under-Wychwood, Taynton, Fulbrook, Swinbrook & Widford, Burford, Westwell, Asthall, Leafield

2) 11th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at Standlake Village Hall, for the south east of the District

Covering: Standlake, Northmoor, Aston, Cote, Shifford & Chimney, Hardwick-with-Yelford, South Leigh, Eynsham, Cassington, Stanton Harcourt

3) 16th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at Woodgreen Offices, New Yatt Road, Witney, for central and east of the District

Covering: Witney, Minster Lovell, Curbridge & Lew, Ducklington, Crawley, Hailey, North Leigh, Freeland, Combe, Woodstock, Bladon, Hanborough, Ramsden, Finstock, Fawler

4) 18th September 2008, 2 to 7pm, at Bampton Village Hall (booked), for the west and south west of the District

Covering: Bampton, Clanfield, Black Bourton, Grafton & Radcot, Kelmscott, Little Faringdon, Langford, Filkins & Broughton Poggs, Broadwell, Kencot, Alvescot, Carterton, Shilton, Brize Norton

Members of the public affected by flooding have been invited by letter to attend their nearest event; however, they will be welcome to attend whichever road show is most convenient for them.

Representatives from the Environment Agency, Oxfordshire County Council, West Oxfordshire District Council, and Thames Water will be at all the events. Cottsway Housing will be attending the 16th and 18th September Road Shows, and representatives from RAF Brize Norton will be at the 18th September Road Show in Bampton.

These are informal events and a good opportunity to drop in, ask questions and find out more about flood prevention.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Flood One Year On

In the Oxford Times Andrew Ffrench writes:

FLOOD ONE YEAR ON: 'Never say never again'
Charlbury Road bridge when the floods hit last July
Charlbury Road bridge when the floods hit last July

Households in Oxfordshire have spent "millions of pounds" in a desperate effort to ensure a repeat of last year's devastating flooding never happens again.

In the past year, homeowners - some of whom are still out of their properties - have purchased a range of equipment designed to keep rising water at bay.

Some have even spent their insurance pay-outs flood-proofing their properties.

But exactly a year on from the chaos, the Government has warned those living in flood-prone areas to brace themselves for more frequent deluges in years to come.

Although significant progress has been made clearing up a large part of last July's mess, floods recovery minister John Healy last night said "never say never again".

He added: "The blunt truth is we are faced with the sort of rain we have never seen before in Britain in records going back 250 years. We can never say never again."

More than 2,100 homes across Oxfordshire flooded last summer.

Mary Dhonau, chief executive of the National Flood Forum, said: "Millions of pounds has been paid by residents in Oxfordshire on repair work and, as well as insurance cover, they have also invested their own money on protecting their homes."

By the end of June, the number of families still out of their homes in Oxfordshire had fallen to 158 - down from 231 in May and 291 in April.

Of those, 18 Oxford households are still in temporary accommodation.

In west Oxfordshire, 90 families are still out of their homes, while in the Vale of White Horse the figure is 50.

Nick Hills, 59, of Earl Street, West Oxford, said: "Since the flood I have been living with friends.

"I got about £25,000 in insurance and I spent that and several thousand more to make my home more flood-resilient.

"I got a stone floor fitted and I am waiting for a fully submersible recycled plastic kitchen to be installed."

Craig Woolhouse, of the Environment Agency, said: "We've had a huge challenge in responding to the floods, but we've been pressing ahead with the job we are here to do.

"Since last summer, we have spent £2m to complete river maintenance, de-silting work, channel maintenance and improving river structures in Oxfordshire.

"We acknowledge we haven't been able to do everything people wanted."

Earlier this month, a demonstration of demountable defences was held in West Oxford.

About 100 people attended the event, where a variety of flood defence products, including absorbant sandbags, water pumps, air brick covers and door and garage barriers were sold.

Tim Sadler, executive director of city services at Oxford City Council and chairman of the joint Oxfordshire group on flooding, said: "The reality of climate change means the risk of floods is ever-present and increasing."

Oxfordshire County Council has spent £600,000 on improving highway drainage at 30 locations in the county.

21st July 2008

Floods: "Apparent Lack of Action"

The most viewed article in the electronic version of the Witney Gazette this week was an article written by David Horne
"I don't want to have to go to my insurers with yet another very expensive bill," said Terry Siddall

A MAN whose home was flooded in July last year has highlighted the 'apparent lack of action' to prevent it happening again.

77-year-old Terry Siddall suffered damage running to more than £50,000 when water poured into his house at New Found Out Farm, near Hailey. Four other cottages were also flooded, with families moved out to temporary accommodation.

He has had a barrier ramp built at the entrance to the farmyard properties, but is still fighting to solve the source of the problem, blocked ditches and highways drains. He said: "I've seen plenty of words about what needs to be done since last July, but it's action that's needed. There seems to have been no apparent action about the problems here."

Mr Siddall's home is adjacent to the B4022 Witney to Charlbury road on a hill coming down from Finstock. In heavy rain, the road becomes awash with water and, within the last two months, became impassable when it collected at a dip just past his home.

Floodwater last summer also poured into the farmyard from surrounding fields.

Mr Siddall, who has lived at New Found Out Farm since the 1960s, said: "It is well-known that ditches on both sides of the B4022 and the road to Ramsden have not been maintained over the years, and they have been allowed by the landowners to deteriorate.

"I am naturally worried that all these properties will flood again unless proper maintenance is carried out. I don't want to have to go to my insurers with yet another very expensive bill."

More than 1,600 properties received flooding of various levels in West Oxfordshire last July, and about 80 are still vacant while repairs are carried out.

In the post-flood analysis, the Environment Agency and county and district councils agreed that much of the damage was not caused by rivers bursting their banks, but ditches overflowing because of poor maintenance.

Although inspections have been carried out, and action plans are being drawn up for all 80 of the district's parishes, it is conceded that the work is taking a long time.

Lawrence King, action principal engineer for West Oxfordshire District Council, said: "In many cases, it is a shared responsibility between landowners and the highways authority. Land searches to find out ownership is a long process, and not always clear. Where we can establish responsibility, we contact them to clear out ditches, and assist run-off. This is taking time.

"In Mr Siddall's case, we can see that grips, or channels, from the road need to be properly maintained to take water away, and that ditches need to be cleared."

The problem at New Found Out Farm would, added Mr King, be highlighted in the flood report due to be published on Hailey parish.

An officer from the county council's highways department visited Mr Siddall to assess what work needs to be done.

He himself has suggested using adjoining fields as run-off areas to take water from the road and away from nearby homes. But agreement is still needed from landowners.

Witney MP David Cameron was on Friday meeting residents in Milton-under-Wychwood, as well as the Witney Flood Action Group over continuing concerns about repeat flooding.

29th July 2008

Friday, 25 July 2008

Letter from Outrage

Dear All

It was a fantastic turn-out on Monday. Thanks to everybody for coming, for wearing the T-shirt and holding up the placards! Thanks also to the various folks who spoke on behalf of the local residents. Keep the T-shirts until next time - we're going to have to do it again. Keep writing too.

For those of you who weren't able to attend, the OCC Planning Committee voted to delay the decision regarding Stonehenge Farm until after the WODC Final Report on the Summer Floods of July 2007 which is expected in September/October.

Julie (Hankey), Chair, OUTRAGE

County Hall, Oxford on 21st July

Monday, 21 July 2008

OCC Planning Meeting - 21st July

The OCC Planning Committee met again today to consider the application to extract 1.55 million tonnes of sand & gravel at Stonehenge Farm, Northmoor. There were about 145 people present to witness the proceedings at the meeting. After two and a half hours of presentations and debate, a motion was put forward and subsequently carried to defer further consideration of the application until the publication of the WODC Final Report on the Summer Floods of July 2007.

The dates of the next two OCC Planning Meetings are Monday1st September and Monday 20th October. Please note these dates in your diary.

Hanson lays off 130 workers

Extract from the Minerals Quarrying & Recycling Magazine weekly newsletter:

"And as the house-building market continues to slump the effects are starting to be felt by suppliers. Key stories this week are that Tarmac Building Products has laid off over 300 workers, Hanson around 130 and 28 are to go in Cemex."

Watch this space ...

Another Letter to Councillors

Dear Councillor

I have lived in Northmoor for 20 years and have observed the very noticeable and obvious increase in the frequency and severity of flooding in and around the village during that time. Last July, after just one day of heavy rain, the village suffered the worst flooding I have witnessed. Fortunately my house did not flood. My neighbour, who has lived in his house for 48 years, did flood – for the first time during his time in his home.

There has to be a root cause for the changes to the flood levels and frequency. To the villagers the reasons are obvious – and are very well articulated by the letter you received from Graham last Thursday. I sincerely hope you have read his letter because it puts our concerns so clearly and I wholeheartedly endorse and support his views. I saw the dramatic volume of water that flowed in a torrent across the Stonehenge site when the Windrush burst its banks and millions of gallons of water were held back on the “safe” side of the flood bank. Would the proposed gravel workings and bunds improve the flow of water when the Windrush bursts its banks – I think not.

To save your valuable time I will not reiterate all the points Graham made to you but I implore you to seriously consider what he said and to understand the damage that will be done to our community if the proposed development at Stonehenge Farm goes ahead.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Please also take time to consider the critically important decision you will make on Monday.

Sent in by Peter Winder, Northmoor

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Letter to Councillors on the Planning Committee

Dear Councillor

I am writing to every member of the OCC Planning Committee to register my strong objection to the application to dig gravel at Stonehenge Farm. The principal reason for this objection is the clear risk of flooding that will result from the works.

Unlike the EA, I live in Northmoor right in the thick of the floodplain, and my objection is based on personal observation of real water flows over many years and not on the inadequate modelling of theoretical water flows performed in support of the application.

A key source of flooding in Northmoor is the Windrush, which joins the Thames at Newbridge. The Windrush floods easily and copiously as a result of the previous gravel diggings higher up the Windrush, which removed the usual buffering from vegetation and the sponge effect of the land now occupied by lakes. Flooding typically occurs when the Thames is high because a huge backlog of water builds up at the junction of the two rivers, bursting the banks of the Windrush and overflowing into the fields. This excess water then drains down to the Thames lower down via the various brooks and ditches across the fields. Importantly, all this floodwater is deposited the ‘wrong’ side of the flood bank, which was designed and built before the worst of the gravel diggings expressly to protect Northmoor from water coming up from the Thames not down from the Windrush.

Stonehenge Farm currently accommodates an important part of the Windrush overspill. In my opinion it would be irresponsible to interfere with our fragile hydrology by the excavation of huge open-caste mines, development of clay-lined lakes, and building of massive earth walls or bunds at Stonehenge Farm. I am astounded that the hydrology model does not show the flooding risk more clearly from this development and can only conclude that it is a poor model that does not correspond with the real-life experience of those who live here.

The proposed gravel digging will increase the risk of flooding on our farmland, it will increase the amount of flooding in Moreton Lane and it will increase the amount of flooding in the village of Northmoor. We have no need of models to show this, we observed the process in action last year on the ground.

At a time when the EA has cut back savagely on waterway maintenance, especially of the Thames and its ‘main river’ tributaries, we already suffer from poor local drainage, as evidenced by the pools of water which appear in the fields after just a couple of days of rain. Right now we are another flood waiting to happen. Approval of the application will just bring the threat of flooding that much closer to us.

Let those who would take the responsibility for approving the application also take responsibility for the economic and personal consequences of the flood that will follow.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please do think long and hard about this decision and take account of the real concerns of so many residents. For your information, I have sought Counsel’s opinion from Harry Wolton, one of this country’s most senior Planning QCs and he is ready and eager to take on the fight should that become necessary.

Sent in by Graham from Northmoor

T Shirt Collection

Thank you to all those who have ordered a T shirt to support Outrage. Maureen will be collecting the T shirts on Friday from Leicestershire, and would greatly appreciate it if you could collect them from her on Friday evening if possible. Anytime between 5.30pm – 10.00pm.

If you are unable to collect please could you let Maureen know and make alternative arrangements. Maureen has very kindly already paid for the T shirts so please could everyone who has ordered one ensure she is reimbursed as quickly as possible. The final cost has I am afraid come out at a slightly higher price, due to the quantity ordered and the need to get the T shirts here by tomorrow. The cost per T shirt will be £ 4.85 this includes a donation to Outrage of 50p per t shirt, or alternatively £4.35 if you would prefer not to make a donation. Apologies for this increase in cost, but it was due to circumstances beyond our control. Maureen worked very hard to obtain the best possible price.


Many Thanks for your support and for helping us distribute (and pay for) the T shirts as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Anniversary of July Flooding - Street Party!

Rack End Street Party

“No More Floods Please”

1 Year after the floods (well within two days) please come and join us for some BBQ food and beers, and take a look at the new anti-flood bund.

Location: 21 Rack End, Standlake. Saturday 19th July 3pm onwards.

We are also hoping for media coverage on the day and help give back up to “Outrage” in their campaign against the proposed gravel extraction. This could lead to increased flooding of Rack End in the future if planning is granted, so please do join us and show your support to get the message across to the Planning Committee

RSVP via email to or Mobile 07775 921021 or simply write names on back of this invite and post through our letter box.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Flooding - A Government Response - 8th July

The Stationery Office published Flooding: Government Response to the Committees Fifth Report of Session 2007–08 (publication number HC901) on 8th July 2008

This is the government response to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee report on flooding published on 7th May this year. The EFRA Committee undertook a very wide consultation and made some excellent recommendations, not only on flood mitigation but also on drainage.

The 18-page government response to the report is clear and offers some key recommendations which are relevant to the Stonehenge application. These include the following.

Local authorities should have a statutory duty for surface water drainage. It should be the duty of the local authority to ensure its area is, and continues to be, effectively drained of precipitation to an agreed national standard of service

Any proposed new scheme should have an estimated maintenance schedule in the same way that it is accompanied by a construction bill of quantities

A key component….is the maintenance schedule over the whole life of the asset

Local people have to be involved, and consulted, in the formulation of decisions about watercourse and river maintenance

This is just a tiny selection. The full report can be found at:

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


This application to extract 1.55 million tonnes of sand and gravel from the Stonehenge Farm site over 8 years was deferred to the OCC Planning Committee meeting at County Hall on 21st July to allow time for the Committee to study the Environment Agency’s response to WODC’s Final Report on the July 2007 flooding in this area.

The WODC report on Northmoor Parish was published on 4th June. It included a requirement for the EA to undertake a full flood zone modelling study and also Hanson and the EA to prepare a satisfactory flood defence solution.

We have learned that the WODC final report is now not due until September. It appears that the EA has closed its consultation. Despite this, Stonehenge Farm will still be on the agenda for the OCC meeting on 21st July.

Please come to County Hall at 2pm on the 21st July to witness the proceedings.

If you have strong views on this application, NOW is the time to write to:

* Our local papers - Oxford Times, Oxford Mail & Witney Gazette

* Our local MP, Rt Hon David Cameron (

* Our local Councillors on the Planning and Regulation Committee (see below).

NB. When writing to the Councillors, please ask them to forward your letter to their nominated substitute in the event that they are unable to attend the meeting on the 21st July.

Councillor Steve Hayward <>
(Chairman) (Witney West)

Councillor Mrs Catherine Fulljames <>
(Deputy Chairman) (Ploughley)

Councillor David Turner <>

Councillor Don Seale <>

Councillor Timothy Hallchurch MBE <>
(Otmoor & Kirtlington)

Councillor G A Reynolds, Grange Farm, Malthouse Lane, Shutford,
Banbury, Oxon OX15 6PB <>

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles <>
(Chipping Norton)

Councillor David Nimmo-Smith <>
(Henley North & Chilterns)

Councillor Ray Jelf <>

Councillor Chip Sherwood <>

Councillor Terry Joslin <>
(Didcot South)

Councillor Barbara Gatehouse <>
(Leys & Lye)

Councillor Alan Armitage <>
(West Central Oxford)

Councillor Jenny Hannaby <>
(Grove & Wantage)

Councillor Michael Gibbard <>
(Kidlington & Yarnton)

EA Flood Watch

Current Flooding Situation

The River Windrush Catchment

Flood Watch

Page last updated: 07:04 on 09-Jul-2008
Flood status checked every 15 minutes.

Current status:

Flood Watch

Status last changed at:

07:04 on 09-Jul-2008


The River Windrush from Bourton-on-the-Water to Newbridge and its tributaries

For more information, follow the link:

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Message from Outrage

OCC Planning Committee meeting at County Hall, Westgate, Oxford, on July 21st at 2pm.

The Stonehenge Farm application will be on the Agenda of the OCC Planning Committee meeting on July 21st, and the County Council intends to reach a decision at that meeting.

PLEASE COME TO THIS MEETING IF YOU POSSIBLY CAN, EVEN IF YOU CAN'T STAY TO THE END. As soon as the agenda is published, we can get a better idea of when the item will come up, and people can plan their afternoon accordingly.

We made a big impact last time, and WE MUST DO IT AGAIN ON A LARGER SCALE. It will be our last chance. The councillors need to be made aware of how strongly we feel. The floodrisk, the noise and dust, the conveyor crossing, the heavy traffic, the destruction of the countryside - we have seen it all up and down the Windrush Valley for years. This is where it must stop.


It would be great if you could confirm you are planning to come along to the meeting on July 21st ( (or not) to help us gauge our numbers, support etc. We hope as many residents as possible do come along, please don’t leave it to your neighbour, come along yourself. Thank you for your support.

Outrage T Shirt Campaign

Dear All

We plan to run a T Shirt campaign, to reinforce our objection to the proposed gravel extraction at Stonehenge Farm, and Maureen Sears has very kindly agreed to co-ordinate it for us.

We hope to place an order for 100 Black T shirts with white print, saying:






The cost of the T shirts will be £ 3.75 each (this includes a donation to Outrage of 50p / t shirt) but we need at least 75 orders before we can go ahead and get the t shirts printed.

If you would like to order one of these T shirts (available in Large & Ex Large) to show your support for Outrage, please could you contact:

Maureen Sears

Monday, 7 July 2008

"Common Sense" is added to the debate ...

I was present at the planning meeting on 19th May 2008 and it is important to remember, with regard to this application, that it is planning law which will determine it. Sometimes planning law can be as clear as the mud the developers seek to remove here; however, the submissions by Col Terry Kirkpatrick (representing Moreton), Robert Florey (Chairman of Northmoor Parish Council) and Julie Hankey (Chair, OUTRAGE) shed commendably clear light on the planning issues that matter and should be read carefully.
But the voice of common sense sounds loudly here too. Above all else, in an age where many a headline trumpets the perils of flood risk where recent evidence let alone future predictions are so compellingly and chillingly clear, why consciously add to those risks?
This application does just that. It fails the common sense tests first and foremost. It should not be permitted and I add my name and all my energies to seeing that it does not.
J Spring

Friday, 4 July 2008

Minerals Quarrying & Recycling Magazine (MQR)

The OCC Planning Committee meeting took place on 19th May. This article, published by the MQR magazine two days later, clearly reflects the view that the decision has already been made.

What happened to the resolution at the meeting "to defer the application to the July meeting in order to consider the application in conjunction with West Oxfordshire District Council's final report on the 2007 summer floods?"

EA gives green light to Hanson Northmoor

Issue date: May 21st, 2008

The Environment Agency (EA) has backed Hanson Aggregates’ proposals to extract 1.55million tonnes of sand and gravel from Stonehenge Farm in the Northmoor area of Oxford.

Development of the site has been objected to by West Oxfordshire District Council and pressure groups on the grounds that it would pose a flood risk to the area.

However, the EA feels that the work carried out by Hanson to address the environment body’s initial concerns over flood risks and hydrology has been sufficient to allow it to give the project the green light.

The site is in the Windrush area which is rich in sharp sand and gravel deposits, material Oxfordshire’s Minerals and Waste Development Framework says is greatly needed in the area.

It predicts between 13.7million tonnes of sharp sand and gravel will be needed to 2019 with 24.3million tonnes being needed to meet demand through to 2026. Permitted reserves at the end of 2005 numbered 6.07million tonnes.

To see the magazine, you can follow the link below:

Wildlife Trust

Flooding - Government needs to show strong leadership

Can nautral areas help protect your home from flooding?

25th June, 2008

As the Pitt Review report into last summer’s devastating floods is launched today, The Wildlife Trusts urge the government to put nature at the heart of dealing with the future risk of flooding.

The Wildlife Trusts welcome the recommendations in Sir Michael Pitt’s report, particularly to work with natural processes through land management and land-use planning to reduce flood risk. The Wildlife Trusts believe that working with nature, such as creating wetlands to slow down and store flood water, alongside targeted hard defences is the best solution for many areas at risk of flooding.

Intensive agriculture, including overgrazing and over-abstraction of water; failure to address surface water drainage in towns and cities and inappropriate development on floodplains, coupled with the destruction of many wetland sites means that many of the natural spaces for water in our landscape have been lost. We have created an impermeable landscape and lost the sponge-like qualities of natural areas to soak up heavy rainfall.

Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The flooding in summer 2007 must be a wake-up call to end all wake-up calls. The Government now needs to show strong leadership by adopting Sir Michael Pitt’s recommendations to seriously tackle the increased risk of flooding that we now face as a result of unavoidable climate change.

“Natural solutions can make a valuable contribution not only to flood risk, but also in delivering education, recreation, economic and wildlife benefits. The Government should develop flagship projects to increase our understanding of these approaches and demonstrate the wider contribution they can make to society. The Government should also invest in a new land use funding scheme to deliver more natural solutions to flooding, including wildlife habitat restoration and re-creation.”

‘Nature’s place for water’, The Wildlife Trusts’ report on flooding demonstrates the landscape-scale approach needed by illustrating the work of Sheffield and Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts which contributes to reducing flood risk in the River Don catchment. Projects include restoring upland habitat to hold water upstream, using Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS), such as ponds and reedbeds to store and clean surface water and managing wetland nature reserves for flood storage in rural and urban areas.

Potteric Carr, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s flagship nature reserve, is one such flood storage area and saved hundreds of homes from flooding last summer by storing 200,000 cubic metres of water on the site. It is also home to hundreds of species, including the rare avocet, golden plover and swarms of black-darter dragonflies. The special design of the reserve meant that during the flooding of 2007, wildlife was able to take refuge from the floodwaters. The reedbeds also act as a water filter, improving the quality of the water before it leaves the site. Just two miles from the centre of Doncaster, the reserve attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The key now is to implement these schemes on a much wider scale than ever before. Rob Stoneman, chief executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Taking a catchment approach to flood management as we are doing in the Don Valley is the only realistic long-term option. If we are to make this approach work, we have to include natural solutions alongside targeted hard defences.”

• ‘Nature’s place for water’ will be available in July on the website

For link to website, see: