ONCE again, the county faces a major dilemma about protecting what makes Oxfordshire such a desirable place to live in.

The Government is pushing for us to be the largest supplier of gravel in the South East, with a 20 per cent increase demanded.

Oxfordshire County Council is drawing up two strategies, which at this stage is sensible: one will see two areas bearing the brunt of the extraction. The other would see it spread around.

You can see how divisive this could be. Everyone outside the two large areas would be in favour of concentrating it there. But people in those areas will claim they should not be sacrificed.

Let’s be honest. No-one is going to willingly volunteer to have the extraction and associated traffic problems.

But we do need the material extraction provides for roads and building. It’s nasty, but it is crucial and it has to happen somewhere.

Already the group Parishes Against Gravel Extraction has reformed and the county council and Government will doubtless have a nasty fight on their hands.

Whatever happens will be deeply unpopular, but we hope authorities inform the public about why they make whatever decision is made.

They really are between a rock and a hard place.