A PLAN to increase the amount of gravel dug in Oxfordshire could create two new extraction sites, with Cholsey near Wallingford and Culham near Abingdon likely options.

Councillors yesterday approved the Oxfordshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan, which sees the amount extracted rise from 0.715 to 1.015 million tonnes a year, until 2031.

It is likely two new gravel extraction sites will be needed.

At the meeting, residents’ groups opposed to the plans lobbied councillors, claiming there had been insufficient consultation.

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Wallingford county councillor Lynda Atkins proposed an amendment suggesting the waste plan was deferred until there had been further consultation, but the amendment was lost, and a majority of councillors then agreed to back the plan.

The plan will now go before an examination in public before it can be adopted.

Ms Atkins told the meeting: “While the council did consult community groups in 2013 about the Local Aggregates assessment, it chose not to do so in 2014.

“We managed to consult other minerals authorities, minerals producers and the Local Enterprise Partnership but we couldn’t, it seems, manage to consult the very people who sent us here as their representatives.”

The Independent county councillor said after the meeting: “This decision means new gravel sites will need to be found, with Cholsey and Culham the most likely.

“I will work with residents’ groups to oppose the plan as it goes through all the different processes.

“The examination in public could take place as early as the autumn or next year.”

John Taylor, a spokesman for OXAGE, questioned the data used to calculate the Local Aggregate Assessment figure of the amount of sand and gravel that would be needed.

Fellow campaigner Julie Hankey said: “The council has failed to consult the community in accordance with its statement of community involvement.”

Cabinet member for the environment David Nimmo Smith said backing the plan was long overdue.

He added: “We do need a strategic plan. If we did not adopt this it would leave us vulnerable to speculative planning applications.”

Last month, the threat of a new gravel extraction site moved closer for Wallingford and Cholsey residents after minerals firm Grundon bought up land between the two areas.

Grundon Waste Management, based in Benson, bought a 165-acre plot of land at New Barn Farm, west of Wallingford Road, for £2.1m, with a view to extracting gravel there.

Wallingford town councillor Bernard Stone said: “One of the main concerns (about the Grundon site) is that it would be right on the doorstep of 10,000 residents.

“But there is gravel in the ground and Grundon will continue to try to set up its business – it will be a tough battle.”