The effect of mineral extraction
The typical impact of having a mineral extraction processing plant in the local area is considerable in terms of its effect on the landscape, its noise and visual pollution and its permanent destruction of the local habitat.
Impact on the local landscape
The open fields between Benson and Dorchester are of great historical interest. The villages around here fought off enclosure 150 years ago on environmental grounds. The same arguments apply today. Gravel extraction would be environmentally hostile and destroy the fabulous views across the Thames Valley floodplain from both the Wittenham Clumps and the Chiltern Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
To the north of the PAGE area, the land around Drayton St Leonard and Stadhampton has a strong farming heritage with a network of footpaths and bridleways crossing the countryside by the River Thame.
If the County Council chooses to select the PAGE areas, then this beautiful area of Green Belt will be devastated by the quarries, pits and associated plant machinery.
Rich agricultural land will be disrupted and we will lose the wide biodiversity that comes with a rural habitat.
The County Council say that sites of archaeological interest would be protected. And in 2003, the PAGE Campaign found new artefacts and evidence across land that had never been fully investigated. This suggests that there may be further undiscovered archaeology in the PAGE area. The archaeological importance of the PAGE area arises from its integrity; its international status depends upon preserving an entire region which has been inhabited for over 5000 years.
Destruction to local lifestyles
The numerous rural villages in the PAGE area would be disrupted by noise and dust from the extraction sites and processing machinery for a period of 15 years or more. Villages which are quintessentially English in character and represent the best of a countryside culture and rural way of life will be affected.
Over the last few decades there has been a deliberate policy to leave gaps in the villages rather than infill with houses so that we can preserve the views across the countryside to the Wittenham Clumps and Chiltern Hills. These preserved views would be ruined by the extraction operations.
Small village roads and country lanes will have to carry the necessary heavy goods vehicles associated with transporting the gravel and sand. The quiet country lifestyle enjoyed by so many families will be transformed for a generation.
In addition, the OCC proposals could well threaten the value and potential re-sale of properties in the affected villages.
Gravel extraction in this area would have an adverse effect on our local economy. People come to this area because it is an unspoilt section of the River Thames. Pubs, shops, hotels and river facilities would all suffer as it would be extremely difficult to hide gravel extraction workings in such an open landscape. The noise of processing plants and the dust produced on windy days would destroy the reputation of this area. In addition, many of the PAGE villages use the scenic beauty to generate much needed income through location fees for film and TV productions. This revenue would be significantly threatened by the introduction of noisy machinery and unsightly quarries.
The road network in the PAGE area is already challenged by the volume of traffic travelling along the A4074 and A329, with daily congestion at peak times. Local village roads which cross the countryside are unfit for any heavy goods vehicles and our villages have narrow roads going through them with homes built very close to the roadsides. The is no rail infrastructure in the PAGE area, so all gravel and sand transport will impact directly on each community.