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October 09, 2012

Respond now to Lafarge revised plans

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Lafarge have put in new plans largely in response to SEAG's comments. They answer some of our concerns about their not complying with Government guidance for the storage of excavated soil in landfill, but they ignore our much bigger concerns about the extra risk of flooding caused by many years of landfill with inert builder's waste which will be placed in claylined pits left by gravel extraction.

If you care about this and other imapcts from decaders more gravel extraction in an area which has already borne more than its fair share of the burden, please write by Thursday October 11 with your opposition to the amended Lafrage plans  to Mary Thompson, Senior Planning Officer, Environment and Economy, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford OX1 1NE or email mary.thompson@oxfordshire.gov.uk quoting reference MW1058/11

The new plans in full can be found here.

December 22, 2011

Comment now on the Lafarge application

It is critically important that as many local people as possible voice their views on the Lafarge application for more gravel extraction at Sonning Eye. SEAG believe the works will be carried out in a way that conflicts with government guidelines and that may make flooding much worse.

You can see the application at http://tinyurl.com/sonningeye

They have many other concerns soon to be outlined on this site.

It will take at least 12 years to get the gravel out, including landfill with builders' waste. The site extends along the river towards Shiplaske.

What should I do?
Write with your views by 26 January at the latest. You can either use the online form, send a letter or you can email theplanning officer directly. He is  John Hamilton: John.Hamilton@oxfordshire.gov.uk. You should quote the application reference which is MW.0158
What happens next?
The planning officer will write a report recommending refusal or acceptance. Since the council propose to include the area in their Minerals Plan (which has yet to be agreed) they may well recommend acceptance. The application will then go to the Planning and Regulation Committee at 5 March at the earliest.

Points for your response
On their website OCC suggest you consider:

  • Land use - is the proposed use of the land suitable given its location and surroundings?

  • Physical impact - What are your views on the appearance of the development. What do you think of any landscaping scheme? Would you be affected by noise, smell or dust? What do you think of any landscaping/restoration scheme?
  • Traffic - What are your views on any arrangements for access and parking? How will the amount or flow of traffic be affected?
  • Community - How will local services and the environment be affected?

OCC cannot usually take into account:

  • fears about loss of value of property

We don't have long, because 26 January is the last date for consultation responses.

December 09, 2011

Lafarge finally publish their planning application for Sonning Eye

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The clock is ticking for your response to Lafarge Aggregates plans for 12+ years of new gravel extraction in Sonning Eye. The application is currently on the Lafarge website, but has yet to be registered by Oxfordshire County Council. Once they have done this, responses can be sent to them.

The site comes close to the River Thames and also to a popular footpath which runs along Spring Lane. Gravel will be replaced with landfill, which will be brought in by heavy lorries along the Henley Road, adding to the traffic congestion in Caversham and Henley.

Locals are very concerned that inadequate care has been taken to protect them from increased risk of flooding, both during the works when massive soil banks will potentially disrupt the flow of floodwaters, and after the work is ended, when less porous materials disrupt the free flow of groundwater.

Screen shot 2011-12-09 at 13.27.33.pngFor full details until the application is recognised by Oxfordshire County Council, see the Lafarge website.

October 28, 2011

Flooding makes busiest B road in Oxon impassable


The scene in 2003
Locals have long believed that the joining of two worked out gravel pits to form the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Course has significantly altered floodlfows, making closure of the busy B478 more likely. These images, from the severe floods in 2003, show how disruptive the high flood levels were. Several houses and garages were inundated. Another 10cm in the river and levels would have been at the catastrophic highs seen in 1947. More gravel extraction followed by landfill threatens to make this situation much worse. It will also blight a beautiful landscape for years to come.

Take action now. Write to Oxfordshire County Council by 31.10.11 to object to their inclusion of Sonning Eye in their minerals plan.


October 18, 2011

Time running out to respond to minerals plan

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No support from SODC? 

An article in last week's Henley Standard highlighted the concerns of local people that South Oxfordshire District Council will no longer provide sandbags when they need them – just when the risk of their homes flooding is set to get worse.

This community is threatened by over 30 years of minerals extraction if Oxfordshire goes ahead with its plan to approve land along the Thames between Sonning Eye and Shiplake for future extraction in its new Minerals Plan.


A million lorries through Caversham and Henley?

It has been calculated that over the 30 or more years life of the proposed workings, around a million new lorry movements might be added to the area's already choked roads. They would be delivering 2m tonnes of sand and gravel and then bringing in builder's waste to fill up the hole left behind by the aggregates. These lorries will bring dust, noise and aggravation. And just how effective will be the control of exactly what waste gets put back in the ground? 


No support from Oxfordshire?

Now Sonning Eye Action Group has identified critical failings in the process by which their council is promoting the Sonning Eye area as being suitable for gravel extraction. According to Nick Marks, Chairman of SEAG, the process has been 'a travesty' that threatens to change the area forever. Key government procedure on site selection has been neglected.  'Unlike other catastrophies, household flooding is a disaster from which you can never recover – once insurance is refused because a house has flooded, who will want to buy it?'


Spoilt views as local roads to grind to a halt?

Apart from the impact on locals, 30 or more years of gravel extraction followed by landfill risks spoiling a beautiful area for the many who enjoy visiting it or who drive through it. Views from the river and footpaths could be affected. Worsened flooding across roads carrying 15,000 vehicles a day will bring the local road network grinding to a halt.

Nick Marks said it was vital that people email mineralsandwasteplanconsultation@oxfordshire.gov.uk to express their disapproval of the inclusion of the Sonning Eye site at Caversham in the plan. The deadline for this is 31st October.


The foot bridge.jpg

October 04, 2011

Act now while your voice will be heard

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Will you respond to Oxfordshire's consultation on where gravel should be dug in the county? If you care about the beautiful countryside around Sonning Eye, you only have until the end of the month to tell OCC that no more gravel should be dug there, saving the area from decades of despoilation by landfill. Full details are in our PDF newsletter which you can download here.

Increased risk of flooding
We have mapped local property levels against the 2003 flood level. Almost half of the houses in Sonning Eye would have flooded if levels had continued much longer. Every further 10cm of level rise would have flooded another 3 houses. We have very real fears that not only will huge soil banks hold up flood flows, replacing porous gravel with impermeable landfill will also make flooding in Sonning Eye much, much worse.

How should I respond?
Please write to Lois Partridge, Planning Policy Officer, Oxfordshire County Council, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford OX1 1NE or visit this link: http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/links/public/mineralsandwas.... Please do this by 30/10.

What should I say?
The words you use are up to you, but consider:

  • By leaving massive soil banks on the floodplain Lafarge operates in a way that completely conflicts with Government rules, and that makes flooding risks much higher.
  • OCC has neglected its duty to protect areas at high risk from flooding from the impact of gravel extraction. Without landfill, the extraction would have far less impact on the local community.
  • Sonning Eye is a Conservation Area and its beautiful setting must be protected. There is plenty of gravel elsewhere, where the impact of extraction will be far, far less.
  • Every time floods block the road the disruption to many lives in the Reading area is massive.
  • After around 70 years of gravel extraction locally, enough is enough for Sonning Eye.

Who else is involved?
We have taken the advice of our MP and County Councillor, to whom you might like to copy your letter. You might also like to copy your response to Councillor Judith Nimmo-Smith, SODC cabinet member for flooding: 78 St Andrews Road Henley on Thames, Oxon RG9 1JE. SEAG has also taken consultants’ advice, this is attached.

What next?
We expect to scrutinise Lafarge’s planning application for 30+ years of gravel extraction very carefully when it finally arrives. Besides flooding and planning blight on Sonning Eye, we will be looking at the impact on archaeology at the site, on the Thames Path and on landscape value. SEAG is not opposed to the principle of gravel extraction. It is however opposed to gravel extraction that makes flooding worse and that blights the area. We will be asking for your support then.

Thank you.

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