FOUR South Oxfordshire villages have joined forces to fight plans for a gravel pit which opponents say will “ruin” the countryside.
Aggregate and waste disposal firm Hills wants to develop the 160-hectare site between Clifton Hampden, Appleford and Long Wittenham.
Spearheading the opposition, Clifton Hampden and Burcot Parish Council is recruiting more villagers from Long Wittenham, Culham and Appleford.
Swindon-based Hills says five million tonnes of gravel would be extracted over the 20-year lifespan of the site – 250,000 tons per year.
Long Wittenham Parish Council vice-chairman Simon Thompson said: “The environmental impact on the whole area would be very serious.”
Leaflets are being circulated and a fundraising campaign has been launched.
Campaigners want to raise £26,000 to hire legal help to fight the planning application which the company hopes to lodge with Oxfordshire County Council in December. Hills plans to stage exhibitions in villages before the end of October.
The campaign group goes by the acronym of BACHPORT – Burcot and Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames.
Spokesman Ian Mason said: “If this project is allowed it would ruin a beautiful part of the countryside bordering the Thames.
“With heavy lorry movements on already congested roads, there would be a high concentration of noise, dust and air pollution.
“It would harm village life, schools, shops, pubs, a camp site as well as river users.
“It would be disastrous for the whole area and we are determined to fight it all the way.”
Hills says not enough sand and gravel is being extracted in Oxfordshire to meet the needs of planned housing expansion over the next 20 years.
With weight restrictions in place over the Clifton Hampden and Culham bridges, lorries would be confined to using the main A415 Dorchester-Abingdon road.
Hill’s quarry products director Peter Andrew said: “This site is strategically located to provide sand and gravel to southern Oxfordshire for economic development. Independent consultants will assess all possible environmental effects.”
He said restoration of the site after its 20-year lifespan could include one lake for water sports and another with a 275-berth marina.
For more, visit hills-group.co.uk /consult/planning.html
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