A LANDFILL site where hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Oxfordshire’s waste has been dumped for decades could be turned into a haven for wildlife.

The former gravel quarry at Dix Pit near Stanton Harcourt has been receiving landfill waste for 40 years but contains a little-known neolithic stone circle, a silt ponds and popular footpaths.

Once fully restored it could shelter water voles, otters, rare species of ducks and birds and a wide range of plants and flowers.

Dumping at the site stopped after European laws demanded greener solutions and waste is now taken to Viridor’s new £205m energy recovery facility near Ardley, where it is recycled into electricity.

Part of the Dix Pit site has already been restored but operators FCC Environment now plan to fill up the rest of the quarry with non-hazardous waste such as rubble and soils and turn it into a country park with footpaths and landscaping, returning some of it to agriculture.

On Tuesday, (April 14), FCC held a meeting with Stanton Harcourt villagers last Tuesday to discuss the restoration plans.

Sarah Henderson for FCC said: “The meeting was well attended and people were quite positive and had some interesting suggestions about what they want the area to become.

“We have to work within the constraints of the planning conditions that we have for the site and take into account the views of county council planning officers, but “We hope this scheme will maximise the benefits of the area for local people.

The firm has to restore the site under the constraints it was given when it originally got planning permission to use the site for landfill from Oxfordshire County Council.

Ms Henderson said: “We have obligations under planning law to return it to a suitable and sustainable area after use, but we want to develop it as a community area with public access to certain areas and provision for nature conservation.”

Jane Bowley, is a county council project officer for the Lower Windrush Valley, and currently manages the Rushy Common and Standlake Common nature reserves, both of which have been developed from former gravel pits.

She believes Dix Pit could become a nature reserve where people enjoy walking and spotting rare bird species including kingfishers, crested grebe, wigeon and teal. She said: “It’s a very interesting potential development – it’s quite exciting.”

Dix Pit is owned by Oxford University’s All Souls College. Part of the pit has already been restored to sheep farming, which was its original use, and trees have been planted on part of it.

The stone circle known as Devil’s Quoits was restored between 2002 and 2008 when stones that had fallen over were re-righted.

Excavations at the time uncovered ancient artefacts such as mammoth bones, elephants tusks and lion skeletons. Under the new scheme it will be protected and its setting improved with new public rights of way and across the site.

Rev Andrew Tweedy, vicar at St Michael’s Church in Stanton Harcourt, said: “If the paths are better marked with better walks and the stone circle is looked after and the area is better laid out it can only be a good thing for the village.”

FCC will now submit a planning application to Oxfordshire County Council to update its permissions for restoring the site.