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News  »  Proposed Gravel Extraction Near Nuneham Courtenay

   Proposed Gravel Extraction Near Nuneham Courtenay    9 March, 2020

From Elizabeth Gillespie
You may be aware that Oxfordshire County Council’s ‘preferred option’ for the excavation of a large quantity of sand and gravel is land stretching from  Sandford on Thames right up to  Nuneham Courtenay (see map below).  

There are many reasons why, out of the whole of South Oxfordshire, this is not a good choice of site.   Close to Oxford, on a road which is already dangerous and heavily congested (and will be much more so if the Redbridge Park and Ride is relocated to it as planned) the volume of lorries to and from the extraction site would add to an already overburdened traffic system, with inevitable consequences for Henley Road in particular.
The impact on Sandford would be considerable in
its challenge to our position on the edge of the city
with access to open countryside.   A large stretch of the Thames Path, from Sandford to Nuneham, will suffer hugely from the dust and visual impact of the excavation.   Together with other proposed building developments around Sandford, we risk becoming gradually enclosed, and increasingly seen as part of the City.
The Minerals and Waste Plan (if you are brave enough) can be found on
For any further information, or to receive an email copy of the sample overleaf,
contact:  pruesykes@outlook.com
OCC are currently consulting on this plan,
and the consultation will end at 11.59 p.m. on Saturday 14th March 2020
If you would like to make comments you can either:

A sample email response is given overleaf,
which you could either send as it stands or shorten or adapt it to your views:
Sample email
Minerals and Waste Local Plan Site allocation:  Nuneham Courtenay
I am writing in response to the consultation on the suitability of the Nuneham Courtenay site as the preferred option for minerals extraction.  I object to the selection of this option for the following reasons:
1.     Transport and access:  the A4074 is a road notorious for accidents, and there is no obvious place between the Sandford sliproad and Nuneham Courtenay which would provide safe access for the passage of lorries to and from the site.   Existing access to the site via Lower Farm Lane is clearly not feasible.   Traffic on the main road is already congested, and will increase with the housebuilding near Heyford Hill roundabout, the proposed new Park and Ride, and the Didcot improvement plan.   There is already a regular buildup in peak periods towards the Oxford ring road.  Why choose a site so close to the City with all the traffic problems that already exist?
2.     Historic environment:  the site is sandwiched between a registered Grade 1 park and garden and one of just two villages in the country in which all buildings are listed, and a cluster of Grade 2 listed farmhouse and barns.   Extraction would massively impact on the setting of the listed Nuneham Park – Historic England have advised that the site should avoid that area and that consideration should be paid to the setting of that Conservation Area.
Crucially, the fields for proposed extraction include an extensive Romano-British archaeological site ‘of immense importance’ which would be irremediably destroyed by mineral extraction.   This is a historic site that is of national significance, and may cover a much larger area than is now known -  Historic England have advised that the excavation should avoid these areas and an independent archaeological report is under preparation. 
3.     Biodiversity:   the area allocated for extraction includes a large field covered in snakeshead fritillaries and river meadowlands which the Oxford Wildlife and Landscape Study report as ‘rich in meadowland wildflowers’ – a national priority for nature conservation – which will be destroyed in the excavation.    It is also adjacent to a large heronry, and there are reports of otters on the adjacent stretch of river.   This meadowland, footpaths and the popular Thames Path (a National Trail) will suffer considerable visual impact from the excavation.  This path and area are of huge importance in offering green space and a natural and unspoilt environment to many within the City and outside the immediate community - people come to this area because it is an unspoilt section of the River Thames, and all would suffer as it would be impossible to hide the gravel extraction workings in such an open landscape.   The noise of processing plants and the dust produced on windy days would destroy this much-loved amenity, and the river water would inevitably be polluted by dust and debris.
4.     Greenbelt:   why choose Green Belt land when many other sites are available?  
5.     Flood zones:   approximately half the site lies within flood zones 2 and 3.   Excavation will inevitably cause changes in the water table and affect flooding in areas outside the immediate site.
I believe these are more than sufficient reasons to exclude Nuneham Courtenay from the options for mineral excavation.  

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