ROMP Application threat to Orchard Lake

THREAT TO WILDLIFE AREAS  FROM GRAVEL EXTRACTION

The FRL Executive is seriously concerned about an application to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC)  to quarry the western Radley Lakes area, particularly in relation to the large Local Wildlife Site  area, including Orchard Lake, which will be destroyed by further gravel workings. 

In the 1970s, planning permission was granted for gravel extraction in the western area of Radley Lakes. Little working has taken place there so far, but now it seems that quarrying may start again.  A ‘Review of Old Mineral Permissions’ (ROMP) application has been submitted to Oxfordshire County Council by J Curtis & Sons Ltd. ‘ROMP’ is a procedure, which allows up-to-date conditions to be put on old permissions, but it cannot normally prevent the quarrying from taking place. The plans are to extend gravel extraction over an area of approximately 42 acres in total, including Bruney and Nyatt fields, which lie between Longmead Lake and the Thames. The area is a rich wildlife area, and has also become increasingly important to the local population for informal access in recent years.

About 11 acres of the land to be exploited, Swans on Orchard Lake by Jo Cartmellincluding Orchard Lake and its surrounding wetland, lies within a designated Local Wildlife Site (LWS).  This LWS includes many important habitats, including the shallow Orchard Lake itself, its surrounding reedbeds, a large botanically diverse sedge bed, wet woodland and unimproved grassland, including orchid rich areas. 

In the restoration plan, it is proposed that only about 4 acres of shallow wetland will be created in compensation for the 11 acres of rich wildlife habitat, which will be quarried.  For the most part, the resulting three large lakes will be steep sided with few shallow areas.   Marginal plants, most aquatic invertebrates and plants, wading birds and spawning fish all require shallow water.  Importantly, only one small island suitable for nesting birds is included in the plan.

The proposed shallows will be created by backfilling using the overburden from the workings.  Topsoil in the overburden tends to create eutrophic conditions, which are unfavourable for much aquatic life.  Low-key angling is proposed as the main after-use.

In the plan the extracted gravel will be transported to Tuckwells plant by dumper truck and possibly also by conveyor. The gravel extraction work is scheduled to last for between 11 and 15 years (but could last longer depending on the demand for sand and gravel).  Public access will be restricted during periods of excavation, which will be in four campaign periods per year lasting 3 to 4 weeks.

Ironically, some of the pressure to exploit the area comes from OCC (which has to meet a target for available reserves of gravel in the county), even though it was OCC itself, which designated the area as a LWS in 2006. 

So far, only the Non-technical Summary of the Environmental Impact Assessment for this application has been seen.   However, Oxfordshire County Council has received the full EIA and has found it to be deficient in its scope.  Oxfordshire County Council have decided to issue a "Rejection Notice".  For further information, please read the article on the Radley Village Website.

 

 

 


Saturday 29 September 2012 - David Guyoncourt


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