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The PAGE committee of local Parish Councils met on Tuesday 21st February to discuss our response to the recently issued modifications to the OCC Minerals Plan.
OCC seem determined to have a new site for extracting gravel in South Oxfordshire and continue to propose extraction levels of 1 million tonnes per annum far in excess of the 10 years average demand which has in the meantime fallen further to just over 600,000 tonnes per annum. Maps issued in the recent modifications by OCC continue to identify the areas in our Parishes as potential sites.
Our response to the modified plan was approved and has been submitted to OCC with our principle objections being (1) the Forecast Annual Production and (2) the balance of future supply between North and South Oxfordshire.
Extensive evidence is provided in our response to support these principle objections.
The fundamental point of our argument is that if the 10 year average figure was adopted by OCC then the County already has sufficient reserves from existing sites this means that NO new sites would be required ..... NO rebalancing to the South would be required and ..... NO Part 2 of the Minerals Plan would be needed.
All our areas are back under threat as the Phase 2 planning is being prepared by OCC – which means the quantities of gravel extraction for the county are now beyond debate, but WHERE (the Phase 2 decision) this is extracted is the next big issue.
There is no doubt that PAGE will need the continued support of the parishes - Dorchester, Warborough, Drayton St Leonard, Benson, Berinsfield, Stadhampton, Newington and Berrick Salome.
As we move into the next phase of response, PAGE with the support of Mineral Consultants, will revisit all the documentation and rationale before preparing a new document detailing why there should be no allocation of a new gravel pit in any of our parishes.
In the meantime we continue to face the potential challenge of an operator submitting a planning application in the PAGE area.
A more detailed summary of events leading to this point are as follows:
In response to OCC’s “Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Part 1 Core Strategy August 2015”, PAGE (along with other regional groups known collectively as OXAGE (Oxfordshire Against Gravel Extraction) ) commissioned Gardner Planning to write an in depth response. The document has been submitted to Oxfordshire County Council Minerals and Waste Group and to the Government Inspector (who has yet to be appointed by the Secretary of State) .
The key objections raised detail the fact that the Plan is not legally compliant because it has not been prepared in accordance with the Statement of Community Involvement. Of equal importance is the understanding that the Plan is unsound for reasons explained below.
Objection 1 is about quantification (M2). The LAA ( Local Aggregate Assessment) and the Plan are not based on the ‘10 year average’ of Government policy, as supported by the majority of MPAs(Minerals Planning Associations), but relies on ‘local information’ which is unsupported by “robust information to justify deviation from the starting point of the 10 years rolling sales average”
Objection 2 is the lack of specificity of site identification with only very broad (and large) ‘strategic resource areas’ identified (without any submitted evidence base) leading to widespread blight.
Objection 3 - concerns the unsupported assertions about site location (paragraphs 4.28 - 4.33). The specificity of paragraph 4.31 is entirely based on assertion, not a ‘robust evidence base’, to identify “a new working area” in Area 5 and is entirely unfounded, and strangely at odds with a ‘no-sites’ plan.
The full plan can be viewed on the OCC website (www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/minerals-and-waste-core-strategy)
PAGE has invested and prepared for this important
period. If you would like to know more, then please do contact us,
details available on this website. We will keep PAGE supporters up to
date via the website or direct mails. Parish Councils receive regular
updates from local Councillors as well as PAGE.