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.

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