Saturday, 22 June 2013

Local News: Controversial Gravel Extraction Application Passed

A controversial proposal to extract 200,000 tonnes of gravel per year for the next 12 years from the Kennet Valley bed between Woolhampton and Aldermaston has been given the green light despite strong local opposition.

Gravel, the pits!
173 acres of land will be dug up by aggregates giant Lafarge before being re-landscaped. Ground level will be reduced by several metres, eventually allowing for new angling lakes to be created.

The mineral itself will supply a local factory, supporting 75 jobs which would otherwise be lost when the Midgham quarryworks are exhausted.

Complaints centred around increases in lorry traffic on road access to the site described as 'inadequate', potentially harming road surfaces, damaging listed buildings located next to rural routes, as well as increasing danger for pedestrians from speeding lorries and adding to noise levels.

Meanwhile additional concerns about the potential for flooding caused by the impact on underground water flows were dismissed on the grounds that this would be mitigated by increases in surface water storage capacity.

The application has been a long time coming - it originated following consultation on the Preferred Options for the Joint Minerals and Waste Local Development Framework in September 2007 and submission of a new Core Strategy on 27th February 2009, and lapsed last year - which raises the question whether WBC is abiding by its own Statement of Community Involvement.

Local LibDem campaigner, James Spackman, commented,
"The determination of West Berkshire Council to push ahead with unpopular plans without making any concessions gives the clearest possible indication that Tories are not listening."
James added,
"The failure of West Berkshire Conservatives to agree a new minerals and waste plan means exclusion sites have lapsed and they are powerless to save protected areas. No wonder residents are angry!"

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