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Gravel sums don't add up!

Friday, 13 March 2015 13:22

Thanks to all those who attended our demo outside County Hall today.   In the end, the amedment seeking to consult affected communities was very narrowly defeated, but the campaign to review the figures will continue.

Oxfordshire County Council today voted by 26 votes to 23 (7 abstentions) to reject an amendment to its draft Minerals & Waste Core Strategy that would have given local communities most affected by dramatically increased gravel figures a chance to comment upfront.   The plan itself was then approved by 39 votes to 15 (2 abstentions).   

The agreed document will now go out for public consultation, with the Council proposing to submit it to the Planning Inspectorate later this year, with a view to adoption in Spring 2016.   CPRE will continue to argue that the proposed extraction figures are over-exaggerated.


You can read more about our concerns below:

In recent years Oxfordshire County Council has had three shots at selecting a figure for the allowable production of gravel and rock.

This is now called the Local Aggregates Assessment (LAA) and, for five years, CPRE has had a good working relationship with county policy makers on this issue. We have joined with seven other environmental groups, each consisting of residents in particular areas of interest to minerals operators, to comment on reports commissioned by the council to propose a new LAA.

At our last consultation in late 2013 we persuaded the minerals policy staff that their contractors' approach was highly questionable. We considered it preferable to use a straightforward calculation set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, namely the average production of material over the previous 10 years. This criticism was accepted, a new core strategy based on it was issued for public consultation early in 2014 and 644 commentators agreed with the use of the 10 year average.

It was therefore with shock that we learned in November 2014 that yet one more study had been commissioned and it led to a different LAA. However this report was not offered to our group for comment. This was in direct contravention of the council's own 'Statement of community involvement' which emphasises the merit of early consultation with interested parties.

To add injury to this insult, massaging of the actual production figures to include those of much earlier years of high output has had the effect of raising the LAA based on a 10 year average by a massive 42% from 0.715 million tonnes per annum to 1.015 mtpa.

Our demonstration at County Hall today sought to point out to county councillors first, the disregard of their undertaking to involve communities, and second the manipulation of the numbers leading to an unjustified level of LAA for sharp sand and gravel.

For further information, please contact CPRE's volunteer Minerals Consultant Arnold Grayson via the Branch Office.


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