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March 21, 2011

Lafarge minerals application expected in late April or soon after

The gravel giant is shortly expected to submit a planning application to Oxfordshire for another so-called extension to the sand and gravel workings at Sonning Eye. This would take them along the river valley towards Shiplake, coming within 50m or so of the Thames Path.

SEAG will review the application carefully and will report to local people what steps it thinks are necessary. We are already concerned that any reduction in the ability of the floodplain's ability to absorb flooding (both during or after the works) could be diasterous for houses in both Sonning Eye and lower Caversham.

Predicting the future capacity of the floodplain with accuracy is notoriously difficult, and as Professor Myles Allen, of Oxford University’s Department of Physics said recently:

‘whether or not a flood occurs in any given year is still an ‘Act of God’ but, with the help of thousands of climateprediction.net volunteers, we are beginning to see how human influence on climate may be starting to load God’s dice.’

OCC Cabinet voted on 16 February was to agree the County Council's strategy approach for mineral working. This now goes out for consultation in June/July.  This means concentration of working in existing areas, including at Sonning Eye. Specific sites for extraction will be selceted in a more detailed site allocation process that will follow.
The consultation results will be received before the strategy is agreed by full council for submission to the Secretary of State.  Early in 2012, the strategy will be published for formal representations, which will then be considered by an inspector. HIs report is binding. The whole process will be over by the beginning of 2013.

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