23rd November 2017 – Grundons Planning Application Update.

The Gravel Pit Planning Application will come before the OCC Planning Committee on Monday 27th November at 2.00 pm.

Can you be there?

This is unexpected and at very short notice however we need as much support there in person as possible.

If you can attend, please do as we need to show that there is local support for our fight.

It is to be held at 2.00 pm,
Rooms 1 & 2,
County Hall,
New Road,
Oxford OX1 1ND

Oxfordshire County Council have no Core Strategy in place under which this application should be assessed so Grundons have opportunistically submitted a planning application which will be assessed only on its own merits and quite regardless of the County’s need for Gravel and Sand. Thus all the previous work that has been done by CAGE, OXAGE and all other contributors comes to nothing.

If this planning application can be beaten then there is a small chance that the Core

Gravel Site Map - Click to enlarge

Gravel Site Map – Click to enlarge

Strategy will be in place before Grundons can reapply so it is important that we try to halt it at this stage.

CAGE contends that some of Grundons assessments are flawed through the use of incorrect data, (essentially “Rubbish in = Rubbish Out”) however the reality is that the Planning Committee will likely take these documents as fact as they have been prepared by “experts”. This leaves little scope to argue the technical merits of the application in just 3 minute or 5 minute presentations to the committee.

Therefore it is vitally important that as many attend the meeting as possible to be seen.

This Gravel Pit will blight our community for over 25 Years!

Please attend if you can


17th August 2016 – Imminent quarry threat next to Wallingford – Grundons Planning Application Update.

Grundons have put in a planning application for a huge sand and gravel quarry at New Barn Farm next to the Wallingford by-pass and the Cholsey-Wallingford road.

Meanwhile, a revised draft of Oxfordshire County Council’s Core Mineral Strategy will go to an Examination-in-Public (EiP) before a government inspector in September 2016. It includes inflated figures for minerals required, which are being challenged by experts.

CAGE was set up in 2011 by Wallingford Town Council and Cholsey Parish Council to fight the county’s plans for a quarry here, an objection supported by our MP, Ed Vaizey, South Oxfordshire District Council, local parishes and both the North Wessex Downs and Chilterns AONBs.

A quarry here will affect the whole community, causing long term harm to the countryside around us and to the attractiveness of the area as a place to live and work. It will impact on our historical, heritage, natural, cultural and economic prosperity.

Our campaign since 2011 has had some success in altering earlier county plans. At the EiP our expert Geoff Gardner, jointly appointed with other Oxfordshire campaign groups, will argue that there is actually no need for any new quarries in Oxfordshire. He makes a compelling case based on minerals sales in the county over the past 10 years.

Grundons’ application unfortunately pre-empts the EiP.  Quite apart from whether yet another quarry is justified, we believe that the proposed Grundons site is completely the wrong place for one. It is on the attractive good-quality farmland separating Wallingford from Cholsey and is close to houses, businesses, a hospital and a nursery school. It will exacerbate already busy roads and roundabouts, causing twenty or more years of blight.

The community has generously raised money for earlier legal and expert costs.  To complete the task, about £25,000 is required for expert advice at the coming Examination-in-Public and separately to fight the Grundons application.

CAGE is very grateful for all donations. Please send payments to CAGE c/o Wallingford Town Council, 9 St Martin’s Street, Wallingford, OX10 0AL, or make a direct payment to Barclays Bank: account name CAGE, sort code 20-01-09, account number 73789667. 

_________________________________________11th January 2016 – Grundon site ownership and current developments.

Response to Grundons’ scoping application to the County Council

As people may have seen in the local press, Grundon have sent in a “scoping request” to Oxfordshire County Council for an environmental impact assessment (EIA). This is in respect of potential mineral extraction on the land they have acquired near the bypass south of Wallingford (New Barn Farm).

By law, an EIA must be carried out before a planning application can be made for any major development. In the scoping request, a developer proposes a list of topics be covered in the EIA. On receipt of the scoping request, the relevant Planning Authority is obliged to respond to the developer, setting out any additional requirements for the EIA above and beyond those already proposed by the developer. This does not infer that the Planning Authority in any way approves or disapproves of the application.

OCC has put the Grundon scoping request out to consultation and CAGE has responded by sending OCC a detailed list of additional points that it believes should be addressed in the EIA. In essence our additional points reflect a lot of the reasons why CAGE considers the land would not be suitable for mineral extraction. We want to ensure that these points are properly addressed in the EIA and not simply ignored or glossed over.

The points include detailed arguments under the following headings:

    • Hydrology, fauna and flora(water table, aquifer, impact of extraction and infill)
    • Traffic (roundabouts already at capacity)
    • Archaeology (research into Great Burh implications, Roman finds, Saxon and medieval archaeology)
    • Air quality (nearby nursery, maternity hospital, residential housing)
    • Noise and vibrations (nearby properties);
    • Heritage, tourism, recreation and landscape (Agatha Christie trail, heritage railway, Mill Brook walk, listed buildings)
    • Socioeconomic impacts (house-building nearby, wider Cholsey-Wallingford developments)
    • Utilities (nearby sewer and gas main).

Although not strictly relevant to the scoping request, we presaged our response by once again pointing out that any application on this site would be “premature” because:

  • there are already enough extraction sites in the county to last nearly 25 years, well over the 10 years required by the government (based on the last 5 years of sales of sharp sand and gravel)
  • the county has not yet had its Core Mineral Strategy adopted.

To view CAGE’s full response, Click here (file will opens in new window).


30th October 2015 – CAGE reflects public opposition to proposals to turn the land south of Wallingford into a gravel pit. 

Residents may have seen reports that the corporate landowner of the land next to the bridge over the River Thames is proposing a gravel pit the size of 25 football pitches (to be converted into a marina once extraction has finished).

CAGE recently joined with other Oxfordshire campaign groups to object to the County Council’s redrafted plans for more gravel pits. It did so because it demonstrated that the council’s plans were based on flawed arguments: the government recommends using a 10-year average of past sales to calculate future requirements and on this basis there is no need for new pits in the county. The county council’s draft plan still has to go before a government inspector.

The “scoping” application made by the owner of the land adjoining the Thames is not only premature but also appears to be an attempt to promote a marina as justification for gravel extraction : it should be rejected until the county council’s plans have been passed by the government inspector. If the inspector finds that there is no need for new pits, then that will be the end of the matter. If the landowner wishes to put in an application for a marina (on land that floods annually) then that application should go to South Oxfordshire District Council to be judged on its merits and not be used as bait for a gravel pit application before OCC’s Minerals & Waste Plan has been approved.


 22nd Sept 2015– Important Gravel Pit Wake Up Call!
Urgent Action Required

 Oxfordshire County Council’s revised draft gravel plans

OCC have now produced another Minerals & Waste Local Plan after they were made to withdraw their previous one. Representations must be received by OCC, 5.00pm on 30th September by post to OCC[1] or by email[2].

OCC say they prefer people to complete an official form to respond, but in fact they have to take account of all responses, regardless of format, if these are sent in good faith.
OCC say that representations should relate to matters of legal compliance or to the government’s tests of soundness (and not to the idea of more gravel pits in the county).

If you wish to email (please include your address etc), the email address is:

If you would like to use the Response Form, the email address is as above and the postal address is:
Minerals & Waste Core Strategy Consultation, Environment & Economy, Oxfordshire County Council, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford  OX1 1NE

Response Form (Click to open in new window)

Some arguments for public use are offered below by CAGE, the local Campaign Against Gravel Extraction.

CAGE has been actively working with other campaign groups in a county-wide group called OXAGE (Oxfordshire Against Gravel Extraction) to try and present a united front to OCC’s repeated attempts to legislate for huge mineral extraction. The OXAGE representation has been endorsed by Wallingford Town Council and will hopefully be endorsed by many parish councils across the county over the coming days. [3]
Geoff Gardner, a planning expert, was commissioned by OXAGE to prepare a joint submission for OXAGE and this can be found at Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning on behalf of OXAGE (Click here to open in new window)

The technical document Geoff Gardner has prepared is a formal “proof of evidence” aimed at the Planning Inspector who will examine OCC’s proposed plan.  Consequently it is set out in a form that the Inspector would reasonably expect to see from a planning expert, and in the same sequence that the issues appear in the council’s plan (rather than in order of priority).

The purpose of the representation is to demonstrate that OCC’s plan is fatally flawed because Government policy has not been followed and the Local Aggregate Assessment (the number of tons of gravel required) has not been properly assessed. It argues that if OCC had carried out the LAA properly, then currently permitted sites already in existence would have sufficient reserves to meet Oxfordshire’s needs for the next 10 years, i.e. there would be no need for new sand and gravel pits anywhere in Oxfordshire.

Please forward this email immediately to two or three people that might be interested in the conservation of our Oxfordshire Countryside. This does not just affect Cholsey/Wallingford but all of Oxfordshire. PLEASE ACT NOW!

Here are some possible arguments for the public to use in comments to the council:

  1. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    I am perturbed that OCC failed to consult parish councils and the public generally when it suddenly increased the LAA (the number of tons of gravel required in the plan) even though it found the resources and time to consult mineral producers towards the end of 2014. The public were deprived of an opportunity to question the flawed methods used and the inflated outcome reached by yet another set of consultants hired at great expense by OCC.
  2. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    I am perturbed that OCC has produced a shoddy plan which is contrary to government policy and is therefore not based on law, and furthermore that this third-rate plan was not consulted on at appropriate stages.
  3. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    I find it astonishing that OCC were happy with a much lower LAA this time last year (produced by experts hired by campaign groups), but then hired different consultants who, using spurious and circular arguments, produced a figure nearly 50% higher at the turn of the year. OCC then managed to consult mineral producers on the LAA but deliberately failed to consult the public at large.
  4. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    There is a circular argument in OCC’s plan which makes it non-compliant with government guidelines (the NPPF): OCC argue that they can leave site allocations until a later stage but at the same time indicate, without any formal supporting evidence, that the preferred area for allocations will be south Oxfordshire. In fact, they are obliged to indicate potential sites and to set out formal evidence as to why each site has been chosen.
  5. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    Campaign groups have over the years provided OCC with a lot of input and advice, including from experts, which should have informed the council to get things right. So it is odd, to say the least, and possibly suspicious, that OCC keep coming back with flawed arguments and figures that would inevitably make the county a huge net exporter of gravel. Is this OCC’s real aim?
  6. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    To get it wrong once despite all the input from well-informed campaign groups and the public at large could be described as a regrettable waste of public money on OCC’s part. To get it so wrong yet again this time around suggests that OCC has some ulterior motive, such as making the county a net exporter of gravel, and is not in the least bothered about wasting public money.
  7. I have seen the Gardner Representation produced by Gardner Planning
    on behalf of OXAGE and fully support the points made.
    I see that government guidelines (the NPPF) advise using a historical 10-year average of minerals sales when calculating the LAA. Most neighbouring counties use this or very similar methodology. The original LAA proposed by campaign groups from across the county (the Hives report, which used the 10-year average as its basis) was accepted by OCC in the summer of 2014. This would have meant that there would be no need for new gravel extraction sites in the county for many years. I find it objectionable that OCC then abandoned the 10-year average methodology when it hired its own new set of consultants who produced a much higher LAA that is completely out of step with the 10-year average.

[1] Minerals & Waste Core Strategy Consultation, Environment & Economy, Oxfordshire County Council, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford  OX1 1NE
[3] It was originally intended to be a representation on behalf of all Oxfordshire campaign groups but two of the West Oxfordshire groups have withdrawn their support because they wished to remove all reference to site selection, which in our expert’s opinion and those of the remaining groups would weaken an otherwise compelling argument.



CAGE Update on gravel situation – 26 March 2015

Oxfordshire County Council have voted to press ahead with a draft plan that has a much higher figure for gravel extraction than previously agreed (1.015 million tonnes a year instead of 0.715 million tonnes a year). New areas, in particular Cholsey and Culham, are therefore under threat.
The government guidelines recommend a method based on a rolling 10-year average of gravel sales to calculate a total requirement figure, the Local Aggregate Assessment (LAA). This is what most of the country uses and it had been the method accepted by OCC’s Cabinet previously, but officers then hired a new consultant who came up with the higher figure using its own algorithm. The 10-year method would have meant that no new pits would have been needed in Oxfordshire as existing and imminent licenses would have been enough to cover the whole of the tonnage required.
The council’s officers managed to consult with mineral companies and neighbouring mineral authorities on the new figure, but they failed to consult residents and campaign groups, a move which breaches the council’s own guidelines on early and broad consultation.
CAGE and other campaign groups from around the county recently joined forces as OXAGE (Oxfordshire Against Gravel Extraction) to ensure that Oxfordshire does not end up with more pits than are strictly needed.
On 24 March local Councillor Lynda Atkins put forward an amendment to the council’s deliberations to defer the plan for a few months and allow local consultations. Julie Hankey, from the Eynsham area campaign group OUTRAGE, spoke about lack of consultation, while John Taylor, from the campaign group north of Wallingford PAGE, spoke about the LAA calculation method and declining land-won gravel extraction. However, the amendment was narrowly defeated (23 for, 26 against, 7 abstentions) and the draft plan with the higher figure was then accepted (with only 15 against).
The upshot is that the county is set to produce 42% more gravel than in the past 10 years, even though official statistics show that land-won gravel sales in the UK have been declining steadily over the last 25 years (because of recycling, new building methods, marine gravel, etc).
Bizarrely, it appears that the council has voted to make Oxfordshire a major exporter of gravel and to blight areas near towns and villages with unneeded gravel pits.
There will be opportunities to comment and to protest in the coming months. It is possible that the government inspector may look at the council’s failure to consult residents early on and the way in which the total requirement was increased by 42%.
The process from now is:
• Revised plan for representations May/ June 2105
• Revised plan to Government September 2015
• Examination in Public November/December 2015
• Inspector’s report published February/ March 2015
• Revised plan adopted April 2016


CAGE Update – 23 February 2015

The threat of a gravel pit has not gone away. CAGE is still as opposed as it ever was to a gravel pit being sited in the highly unsuitable location between Cholsey village and the market town of Wallingford.

Grundons, a local firm, have bought the land in question with the intention of exploiting the minerals if given the planning go-ahead. At a recent meeting with a CAGE representative and the Parish council chairman, Grundons said they were already drafting a planning application which they intended to lodge in a year’s time, irrespective of delays in finalising the county council’s strategy. Grundons claimed that, if given permission, they would dig sensitively on small sites, refilling as they went. There was no mention of what would happen if they were to sell the land to a different mineral extractor.

If the county’s Core Strategy on minerals concludes that no new pits are needed, then Grundons should not get permission to dig. This would be the case if the county were to use the simple method recommended by the government to calculate how many tons of minerals the county needs in its “landbank” until 2030: that simple method is a rolling 10-year average of past sales. Moreover, if the strategy were to take account of sites that are on the verge of being licensed in the coming weeks, then NO NEW HOLES ARE NEEDED in the county at all. It has to be remembered that Hansons have mothballed some of their pits in the county.

However, for reasons that have not been divulged, the county council’s officers recently commissioned yet another consultant to do the requirement calculation. Instead of adopting the simple rolling 10-year average, the consultant used a complicated algorithm and came up with a figure that is over 40% higher. This is clearly so unrealistic at a time of falling sales and demand generally, that it raises a question about the motivation of the county council.

A special meeting of the county council will be held at 10am on 24 March at County Hall in Oxford to discuss the Core Strategy. We urge anyone who can to be there!


13th March 2014

Has the Gravel Pit gone for good – not quite!

The County Council’s new consultative document on minerals and waste is now on the OCC web site and all interested parties have been asked to comment by 7th April ( .

We feel the document should be cautiously welcomed as it has two major alterations: (1) the total tonnage of minerals required has been significantly reduced and (2) it no longer specifically names Cholsey-Wallingford for a new gravel pit, were one to be required.

The calculation for the total tonnage required is now to be based on a rolling 10-year average of past sales – which leads to a much lower required provision of 0.81 million tons a year. This is good news.

As for sites, however, it names the whole of the Thames valley from Oxford to Goring gap as a possible area from which to choose a site in the future – which may or may not be required. Significantly, recently approved extraction which allows for extraction at Caversham of 6.86 million tons over the entire period, is not shown in the Council Table 2 and gives a new total of 13.57 million tons for the entire period. This is not far short of the 14.58 million tons total required for the whole county until 2030 without nominating any new quarries, at least up until say 2027 based on current requirements.

There is another new element in the plan: the council wants to “balance” gravel extraction in the west of the county (where most of the gravel pits are currently located) with the south. There is a section (numbered C1-C11) listing the criteria applicable to each area/site. This is what we want to tighten up, because it seems to be based on rural areas and takes little or no account of tourism and urban realities facing market towns.

All in all, the policies in the new plan seem to be much better formulated than in the previous one in terms of how areas in general, and indeed sites in particular, will be treated regarding gravel needed and the new west-south “balance” for possible new pits. Improved drafting of C1-11 sections, detailing what criteria should be met, would be a further improvement.

Any planning application that comes forward for gravel operations in the future will have to satisfy tighter requirements than before: they will be accepted only when Sutton Courtenay pit is exhausted and only if new tonnage is actually required from within the county, which is doubtful since Oxfordshire quarries are not being operated as much as originally thought and neighbouring counties seem to produce enough gravel that operators prefer to buy anyway.

To sum up, from the point of view of CAGE, we plan to ask for a tightening of the C sections, and possibly add a criterion C12 specifically to deal with the socio-economic and quasi-urban requirements (tourism and local market economy) which we feel are not well enough covered in C5.


17th October 2013

County council redrafting gravel policy – update

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is redrafting its gravel policy. It plans to hold public consultations in February 2014.

So far, new work includes calculating all over again the gravel requirement for the county up to 2030. A minerals consulting firm called Atkins was commissioned by OCC to produce a fresh report: Atkins has come up with a figure of 964,000 tonnes a year as the amount required.

This report has been challenged by campaigners across the county, including CAGE, because it is based on a method that is very complicated as well as being based on guesses which are then used to drive further guesses.

Campaigners throughout Oxfordshire have grouped together in a body called OXAGE (Oxfordshire Against Gravel Extraction), which commissioned an expert firm called Hives to look at the Atkins report.

The Hives report recommends following the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): this says that a simple and transparent method should be used to calculate the requirement, namely a 10-year average of past sales of gravel. Using this method, Hives comes to a figure of 812,000 tonnes p.a. if the 10-year average ends in 2012. If 2013 sales can eventually be used, then Hives thinks that this figure will come down to 734,000 tonnes p.a. This is much less than Atkins calculates.

Furthermore, Hives points out that Oxfordshire is alone in using the complicated Atkins method: other counties follow the NPPF’s simple 10-year average. Also, Hives points out that our council has over-estimated the requirement by an average of 17% every single year for the past 30 years: this has led to three nominated quarries in Oxfordshire being “mothballed” by one large minerals company.

Campaigners believe that the county council should not be alone among councils in rejecting the NPPF’s simple 10-year average method to calculate requirements, especially since it has always over-estimated in the past and blighted Oxfordshire’s communities with now “mothballed” quarries. Oxfordshire, we say, should encourage mineral companies to bring in gravel from Cornwall, where huge amounts of it are produced as a by-product of other mineral extraction there, and also from massive sea dredging operations that are under way in the North Sea. Oxfordshire already has good rail connections and freight facilities.

Campaigners believe that our communities and landscape should not be blighted as a result of unnecessarily complicated and inadequate policies adopted by our council.



10th July 2013 – Gravel Pit Update

OCC withdraw the flawed Minerals & Waste Strategy

Oxfordshire County Council has withdrawn its Minerals & Waste Strategy in the face of criticism by the Government Inspector that it is defective and unsound. The council will now work on a new strategy, which will probably take until 2015 to finalise.

CAGE will try to ensure that the Cholsey/Wallingford location is not chosen as one of the potential sites in any new strategy for the reasons it has already given in its original response.

The council has never explained properly why eight other potential sites, none of which included Cholsey, were removed from consideration and why Cholsey suddenly replaced them all as the only possible site in the defective strategy. Another issue is why the council pressed ahead despite clear public warnings that its strategy was legally defective: it could have withdrawn it a year ago or not submitted a flawed plan.


17th May 2013 – Gravel Pit Update

Correspondence with the Independent Inspector

The Independent Inspector and OCC have been in correspondence in which the inspector has outlined a number of deficiencies in the OCC plan’s compliance with the National Planning Policy Framework. CAGE is concerned that rejection of the Mineral and Waste Core Strategy on procedural grounds would mean that the Cholsey Gravel Pit could remain “on the cards” while the Mineral Plans are sent back for a full rework, thereby continuing the blight on Cholsey and Wallingford.

To this end, CAGE has written to the Inspector and has included its legal counsel’s opinion seeking to persuade the Inspector to proceed to the EIP (Examination in Public). This would allow CAGE to argue its case that Cholsey is an inappropriate site selection, thereby foreshortening the blight.

Click here for the letter to the Inspector

Click here for the Legal Opinion


22nd February 2013 – Gravel Pit Update

 The process of the Examination in Public has been suspended until the 31st May but the main hearings are now unlikely until late September.

Despite being advised by CAGE, and a number of other parties, that the OCC’s submission was lacking as well as failing to comply with the new National Planning Policy Framework, the County Council decided to press ahead with its submission intending to take it to the EIP (Examination in Public). Accordingly an independent inspector has been appointed.

CAGE’s view has always been that OCC’s strategy has been to try and steamroller it through, hoping that the Inspector will overlook the deficits in their submission.

The Inspector has, unsurprisingly, found that the OCC’s submission is lacking and has asked for evidence to support some of their assertions. This evidence is not allowed to be new evidence, rather it is the evidence that they should have used in making the assertions that were included in their Submission Document.

Naturally this has taken quite some time to get together and has caused extensive delays.

The latest position is that the EIP process has been suspended until the 31st May, although the actual date of the hearing could be nearer September if the new Council, which will have recently been elected, needs to vote on modifications. It is clear, however that the inspector would like to be able to progress the matter.

A list of the correspondence between the inspector and OCC can be found at

The correspondence supports CAGE’s view that the OCC failed to undertake all the initial work soundly and robustly.

CAGE strongly believes that, had this work been carried out properly in the first place, the case for the site being located at Cholsey should have been rejected.

CAGE is also very concerned that the OCC’s approach has proved very expensive for local residents (~£30k spent on our Representation and public awareness campaign). If the inspector rules that the Core Strategy is unsound and needs to be “redone” it will add further financial burden on the community. If the Core Strategy is sound, but the selection of Cholsey is rejected as unsound, CAGE believes that the longer term outlook is more positive.

CAGE will continue to fight this unwarranted invasion of our community, countryside and historic Saxon heritage and needs your continued support.


17th July 2012

Please click here to read the final defence submission.

Index to Appendices

This document, along with all the other documents that have been prepared throughout this process, will be put before an Independent Inspector. The Inspector will consider all the evidence and will then hold an Examination in Public (EIP) where he/she will hear evidence from a number of parties, one of whom will be CAGE.

This will take some months, with the Examination in Public occuring in September.

After the EIP, the Inspector will then make his/her decision known.


16th July

Please keep registering your support as we hope that there will be an opportunity to advise the Inspector of  revised numbers of supporters when he/she considers the arguments against the proposal.


10th July

We need as many as possible to sign up on the registration form. Please act now and encourage family, friends and neighbours to do so as well!

We have been advised that supporters do not need to receive and agree the CAGE document by email because they have already indicated their support by completing the canvassing form and registering on the website. We shall email the CAGE document in the latter part of the week (12/14th July), and certainly before the OCC deadline of noon on Monday 16th July. If you know of people who support the CAGE position and who have still not registered their support then please ask them to enter their details directly on the website in the box on the right-hand side of the home page.”

Please Sign up Now!→

Deadline for signing up is the 12th JULY



Please see the result of the Council’s vote. Click UPDATES at the top for the latest news

Leave a Reply