PLANS for a 'national park' on the edge of Oxford have been given the backing of the city council.

Campaigners from a group called Bioabundance announced their proposals for a new national nature reserve, an area similar to a national park, in January this year, covering an area north east of Oxford including Otmoor and Bernwood Forest.

As Oxford City Council met this week, it gave its backing to the planned 36 square mile reserve.

A motion to the council by Green Party members Dick Wolff and Craig Simmons asked for the leader to consider writing a statement in support of the park, and to bring it to future meetings to discuss practical ways to get involved.

Mr Wolff said: "This is a precious bit of earth that we have there. It has lovely villages and ancient woodlands. It needs to be enjoyed and it needs to be protected and there's a lot more to it than that."

He added that recent studies suggested small nature reserves were not enough to stop 'biodiversity depletion' in England and that landscape-scale projects like the new park were needed to help wildlife populations thrive.

Other councillors backed the plan to discuss the scheme in future.

Labour's John Tanner in his final speech as a councillor before standing down at May's elections, backed the plan, and said: "It is Oxford’s green spaces that make it the wonderful place to live."

Outside of its proposals for a new national reserve on the edge of Oxford, Bioabundance is also trying to fund a judicial review of the South Oxfordshire Local Plan, to prevent homes being built on green belt land.

Oxford City Council supports building on the green belt to combat the housing crisis.

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