The PAGE website

2017 October Website Update

Back to a single domain!

Last year the PAGE Campaign had to move its offical website to a new .org.uk domain which ran alongside the original site at www.pagecampaign.org. We are pleased to report that the old, abandoned, site has now been closed and the site that you are currently on is now the only PAGE website. Even if you type the old .org address into your browser you will arrive at www.pagecampaign.org.uk, the offical PAGE Campaign website.

However, please note that previous .org email addresses still may not be received, so please make the necessary changes to your contact lists, adding a '.uk' to the end after the '.org'.

The website has been rebuilt retaining the familiar visual style of the previous site but you may come across some errors or occasional hiccups – so please report any issues to our webmaster by using the link at the foot of the page.

Please for inclusion on the site via our new comments@ email address.

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2017 October Update

Not the news we wanted

The current situation

Oxford County Council approved the Draft Mineral Plan on 12th September (which includes the amount of gravel, sand etc to be extracted) and the Part 2 Site Allocation Plan is expected to be presented to the Council in December 2017.

PAGE’s response

PAGE obtained Counsel’s opinion (legal advice) on the justification and merits of mounting a judicial review into the inspector’s examination of the evidence supporting OCC’s Draft Mineral Plan. Counsel’s opinion is that we do not have grounds for a legal challenge.

We believe that PAGE made the strongest possible case against the Mineral Plan, which included a County wide campaign with OXAGE to get the LAA (Local Aggregate Assessment) set at the 10 year average but with the Inspector’s support OCC were determined to set the level at 1,015,000 tonnes per annum. We have just received the latest LAA from the County which shows a 15% fall in aggregate extraction to 650K tonnes, primarily because Hanson have stopped production for the time being and gravel is being imported from East London and Somerset. This means that the 10 year average is down to 595K tonnes p.a. which only goes to further support our case that no new sites are required in Oxfordshire to meet demand. In fact the existing land bank is sufficient to meet requirements over the next 19 years - well beyond the scope of this Plan.

What happens next

The next stage of the OCC Plan which has to be fought is the Part 2 Site Allocation. All our areas are back under threat from this plan and it provides an opportunity for developers to put in opportunistic planning applications for gravel extraction anywhere in our area.

We anticipate the planning decision for the new gravel extraction sites in Cholsey and Clifton Hampden to be announced in the coming weeks. We will continue to monitor this and its impact on further sites in our area.

We propose to the 8 parishes represented in PAGE that we remain as an active group in order to maintain vigilance over the Part 2 Site Allocation Plan. In order to do this we rely on the continued funding for this year and next from the parishes at the current level.

Rob Marsh

2017 March Update

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.

  1. We firmly believe that the annual rate of sand and gravel extraction in the OCC plan is too high and that the justification for deviating from Government Policy (that the 10 year average should be used) is not based upon robust evidence. The outcome is likely to be an excess of land blighted by the threat of gravel extraction.
  2. The “rebalancing strategy” for shifting future provision for gravel extraction to South Oxfordshire is not significantly justified nor based upon solid evidence.

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.

2016 November PAGE Report

Re. the Government Inspectors interim report on gravel extraction

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:

  1. Local Aggregate Assessment (ie how much was needed)
    The case put forward by PAGE, OXAGE (Oxfordshire Against Gravel Extraction) and others to use the 10 year average (0.628 mpta) was considered by the Inspector but rejected in favour of the OCC and South East England Aggregate Working Party view that Oxfordshire alone should have a higher than average figure (1.015 mtpa). This is critical as it means that new sites for gravel extraction will be required in Oxfordshire in the period to 2031.
  2. How will they decide where to extract gravel from?
    The report seems very supportive of a single plan approach (upfront agreement on how much and where) but says that there is no legal requirement so accepts OCC’s justification for having a 2 part plan (to first decide how much (now almost complete) and later decide where. This means that OCC will develop a plan to agree where new gravel extraction is to take place starting next year.
  3. Rebalancing Production from Western to Southern Oxfordshire Sites
    The report accepts that the case has not yet been made and that this proposal by OCC should be reviewed and a new timetable will be published in the next month. This is a concern for PAGE and all communities on the list.
  4. SCI Compliance (Statement of Community Involvement) – how has this matter of procedural short coming been resolved?
    The report accepts that the spirit of the SCI has been broken but the Inspector agreed that it would have been unacceptable to halt the Examination because of non-compliance.

Next Steps

  • OCC to publish a timetable by the early November
  • OCC to produce main modifications and consult the Inspector before final publication (probably next Spring)
  • Consultation on this material
  • Planning has already been submitted for gravel extraction in Cholsey and Fullamoor and the local campaign groups are employing Experts, Barristers and QC’s to fight the plans
  • PAGE to ensure that all supporting documentation and research is up to date and appropriately structured.

2015 October Update

OCC's Mineral & Waste Plan goes to the Secretary of State

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) .

Download Gardner Report

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.

Thank you…

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