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:

Water UK

Water UK welcomes Pitt Review


Water UK welcomes the direction and key recommendations of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of last summer’s floods, published today.

Among the key issues for the water industry highlighted by the Review are:

Clarification of roles and responsibilities for managing flooding, mirroring the Government’s announcement earlier this month to give a strategic role to the Environment Agency and specific responsibilities to local authorities;

The need for an improved understanding and management of flood risk, particularly for critical infrastructure. This includes incorporating the likely impacts of climate change, an area where the industry has already undertaken a great deal of work;

Improved building and planning development and control and removal of the automatic right of connection of surface water to the public sewer, which the industry has long campaigned for;

Involving utility service providers in emergency response procedures; and

Improved sharing of appropriate information, moving from a 'need to know' to a 'need to share' approach.

Water UK’s own independently chaired review of the floods will publish its second report on 29 July. It will complement the Pitt Review and the recommendations will be focused on action the water industry needs to take, on its own or in collaboration with others. See the terms of reference for the review.

The first Water UK report was published in February 2008 and concentrates on the emergency response to the floods. This was intended as a 'wake up call' for the industry and describes a series of recommendations that water companies need to action to provide a better response the next time such events happen.

RSPB - Working with Nature to cut Flooding

Restoring the UK’s natural flood defences has emerged as a key recommendation of Sir Michael Pitt’s review into last year’s disastrous floods.

Sir Michael’s report has said planning for future floods should include ‘working with natural processes,’ to create a countryside more able slow floodwater and to store it away from towns and cities.

In the process, wetlands would be created, providing homes for wildlife and places for people to relax and enjoy nature.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s Director of Conservation, said: “We are very pleased Sir Michael’s review has recognised the importance of working with nature to reduce flooding.

“Restoring our rivers’ natural floodplains would allow them to store vast amounts of water during floods while provide many benefits to people and wildlife at other times.

“New areas of wet grassland, reedbed or wet woodlands could all hold on to floodwaters and slow their progress across the landscape.

“On farmland too, simple measures like more hedgerows and trees could help to slow flood waters and in our uplands, the restoration of peat bogs could have a similar effect.”

He added: “It is now up the authorities to act on the recommendations in Sir Michael’s report.

“When the Environment Agency comes to approve and fund new flood defence schemes, we hope they will give due weight to those which make use of the natural processes.”

See RSPB site for more details:

EA welcomes findings of Pitt review

The Environment Agency today warmly welcomed Sir Michael Pitt’s comprehensive final review into the 2007 summer floods as a significant contribution to managing the future flood risk in England and Wales.

In welcoming the report, Chief Executive Paul Leinster said the Environment Agency had highlighted the need for further clarity on the responsibilities for flooding from surface water drains, infrastructure protection, more publicly available information on flood risk, and additional resources to help adapt to climate change as key issues to be swiftly taken forward.

“Sir Michael’s report puts the spotlight back on the need for the country to be prepared and able to respond to the devastating impacts of flooding. He covers a wide range of topics – many directly related to our work – and all of which are essential to better protecting people and the environment from flooding into the future,” Paul Leinster said.

“It’s also important that the real risk of climate change has been acknowledged by Sir Michael Pitt. Recent flood events have highlighted the urgency of adapting to the potential effects of climate change to protect lives, property, the economy and the environment. Now that the Government’s Foresight report has been reviewed, and it’s clear that we are going to face less predictable weather and more extreme events such as flash flooding, investment in flood risk management should continue to rise to keep up with the changing climate,” Paul Leinster said.

“This report is comprehensive and well researched, and overall we’re pleased it’s raised issues of importance and ways forward, for not only the Environment Agency, but for local authorities, utilities and emergency responders.

“It’s also encouraging that the report reinforces the importance of individuals in taking responsibility for protecting themselves and their properties. We can’t stop the rain but we can all work together to reduce the impacts of flooding,” Paul Leinster said.

People can check their flood risk and find advice on how to prepare for flooding at To sign up to the Environment Agency’s free Floodline Warnings Direct, call 0845 988 1188.

For link to EA website, follow the link below:

CLA supports Pitt Review

The CLA today (25 June 2008) gave its support to many of the measures recommended in the Pitt Review into last summer's devastating floods.

The rural economy experts also welcomed Environment Minister Phil Woolas' statement that the Government was ready to back up the proposals by "providing authorities with the powers to ensure that organisations and landowners responsible fulfil their obligations, for example by maintaining drains".

CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: "The CLA supports this approach and it serves as a reminder to the Environment Agency and other relevant authorities that they need to get their house in order where they have a responsibility for maintaining water courses. This applies equally upstream and downstream of towns and villages but the agency must be provided with meaningful funds in order to undertake these additional tasks.

"Land managers and farmers are ideally placed to help prevent downstream flooding through managed flood alleviation projects. We have been consulting with partners to try to find ways of funding this type of scheme through environmental contracts. There is huge potential if the Government can be flexible enough to encourage environmental markets that can then save millions of pounds downstream."

The CLA will be looking closely at how the extra £37.5 million that has been made available is spent - along with how the proposals are implemented so that land managers can make a positive contribution.

Sir Michael Pitt's review – launched today (25 June 2008) - recommends working with natural processes to reduce flooding risk.

For more, follow the link here:

NFU speaks out on Flooding

Farmers miss out on flooding fund

23 June 2008

Farmers and growers will not share in the EU flooding fund set up for damage caused by the flooding during summer 2007 despite suffering losses worth millions of pounds.

The EU Commission has announced 162.4 million euros from the European Solidarity Fund to help deal with the 'consequences of devastating floods' that hit the UK last summer.

However, the NFU is angered none of this money will find its way to helping farmers and growers who had homes ruined, crops destroyed and livestock put at risk. Vice President Paul Temple has spoken with farmers across the country who lost crops and suffered severe economic damage.

"Farmers and growers bore significant costs and disruption during last summer's floods with estimates of almost 50,000ha being flooded", he said.

"While the EU's announcement of 162m euros is obviously welcome for the nation as a whole, it again highlights the totally inadequate assistance made available to farmers and growers last summer.

"While farm businesses suffered losses of up to £250,000, help was limited to £2,500. Farmers are seeking recognition of the problems that occurred and are looking for local solutions to be found.

"We hope Sir Michael Pitt, in his report on the summer floods to be published on Wednesday (June 25), will recommend increased help following the flooding of last summer."

Watercourse maintenance key to effective flood risk management

24 June 2008

Good watercourse maintenance is vital in both flood risk and water level management and the Pitt Review must ensure adequate attention is paid to the issue says the NFU and the Association of Drainage Authorities.

Both the NFU and ADA made watercourse maintenance a key point of their submissions to the Pitt Review into last summer's floods, the report of which is due to be published tomorrow (Wednesday).

NFU Vice President Paul Temple said: "Inadequate maintenance is one of the key concerns of our members and is the reason why many of them suffered prolonged flooding, sometimes lasting several weeks, following the events of last summer. Efficient and suitable maintenance activities may not have prevented the exceptional flooding we saw but would certainly have reduced the impact in some areas and allowed many communities to recover much quicker. It is vital the Pitt Review considers the maintenance issues that arose following last summer's floods and recommends action is taken to deal with them."

Henry Cator, chairman of the ADA, added: "Recent years have seen a change of emphasis to strategy and warnings. Welcome though these are a better balance is needed between these important activities and the delivery of capital works and maintenance out in the field if we are to significantly reduce actual flood risk to people, their property, and the nation's infrastructure.

"In increasingly stormy and unpredictable climatic conditions, there is, in my view, unlikely to be any substitute for increased national expenditure on the whole range of activity we include in flood risk management - and maintenance is crucial. It seems to me there is a worrying lack of will to protect our national assets. We must do better than just 'give up' in this way."

For link to NFU website, see here:

Natural England - Press Release

Natural flood prevention should be part of long-term flood defence plans, says Natural England

25 June 2008

Any long-term approach to flood risk management must include the vital role played by the natural environment, says Natural England today (Wednesday 25 June) in response to Sir Michael Pitt’s review into last year’s summer floods.

In particular, Natural England warmly welcomes Sir Michael Pitt's review recommendation that Natural England works with Defra and the Environment Agency with partners to establish a programme through Catchment Flood Management Plans and Shoreline Management Plans to achieve greater working with natural processes (Recommendation 27).

By increasing the natural capacity of our urban and rural environments to absorb and hold excess water, we can help to slow run-off and dramatically decrease the risk of flooding. Thriving wetlands, restored peat bogs and free-flowing rivers are recommended by Natural England to reduce the harmful effects of flooding. This requires an integrated, landscape-scale approach from the uplands right the way through to the coast.

Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England, said: “Natural flood defences could be the key to long-term flood prevention. Well-managed landscapes not only play a crucial role in our need to cope with the increased probability of extreme rainfall, but they have huge potential benefits for biodiversity, pollution reduction and carbon storage."

Natural England supports the recommendation that the Government commits to a strategic long-term approach to its investment in flood risk management planning up to 25 years ahead. Natural England would also like to see green infrastructure as central to any new developments or as part of regeneration projects as parks and green spaces within built up areas as these can help to reduce flooding.

“'Flood friendly’ land management is not a replacement for, but a necessary complement to existing flood defence. Traditional flood defences of concrete and earth embankments may no longer be adequate or sustainable in the long-term,” concluded Sir Martin.

The full report can be found at

Follow the link below to find the Natural England website:

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

CPRE - Response by Outrage

Julie Hankey, Chair of Outrage, responds:

"The support of the Council for the Protection of Rural England is greatly appreciated by OUTRAGE. As they say, 95% of gravel for Oxfordshire is provided by the Lower Windrush Valley and 45% of the valley has been dug up since the war. This is shocking and Oxfordshire County Council should be made to see that it is. As a direct result of presentations made by Outrage, the Structure Plan 2016 states that the cumulative impact of gravel digging across an area will be taken into account when considering planning applications. This is the first Oxfordshire Structure Plan ever to include the criterion of cumulative impact.

The Stonehenge Farm application will be the first test of that principle in the history of minerals planning for Oxfordshire. If the County Council's words mean anything at all, the Stonehenge Farm application ought to be rejected. We need to press Oxfordshire County Council to have the courage of its own convictions. It's not good enough to put fine-sounding phrases into its planning documents and then sweep them aside when it comes to the crunch. The map for the area shows an almost unbroken series of lakes between the proposed site and Witney.

Other planning authorities can do it. Northamptonshire, for example, has decided that the Nene river valley can no longer be dug up 'without excessive environmental impact'. Exactly the same is true for the Lower Windrush Valley. Precious little is left unspoilt, and that little is indeed precious.