Nuneham Courtenay Parish Council

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Gravel Extraction

The County Council's emerging Minerals and Waste Strategy has included consideration of a site for gravel extraction in Nuneham Courtenay and in surrounding areas (Drayton St Leonard, Culham, etc.).  The Parish Council has sought to ensure the Nuneham site is not included in the current Strategy.  Representations appear to have been accepted by the County and the site has been removed from those being carried forward for consideration.  However we should not be complacent.

This page contains information on the emerging Strategy.  It provides information on the current position and links to more extensive notes prepared by NCPC, documents prepared by OCC and websites in which further information can be found.  If you have information you think that would be helpful in responding to this process then please contact Colin George, or use the contact us form


  Gravel extraction in Radley 1978 - looks unlikely to be repeated at Nuneham or Radley for the time being

Latest News

In this section we will be posting links to the latest news items as this issue develops.

News - January 2013

The process for approving the Strategy has become protracted.  The next step, examination of the County's proposals by the Planning Inspectorate, has been given no date.  Recent press reports suggest this won't happen until after County Council elections in May 2013.

News - 18 March 2012

County Minerals and Waste Strategy.  The County Council's Cabinet approved the draft submission document at its meeting on 13 March.  There were strong representations at the meeting on behalf Cholsey and West Oxfordshire communities.  This will now go forward for approval by full Council in April, a final public review in May and then for  examination by a planning inspector (submission in July) ? its final journey before adoption.  The proposed Nuneham Courtenay site, and those in the immediate area, do not appear in the final plan.

The following is an extract from the papers submitted to the 13 March County Council Cabinet meeting.  A copy of the full paper can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Report by Deputy Director for Environment & Economy ? Growth & Infrastructure (CA6).

The Minerals and Waste Core Strategy will set out the vision, objectives, spatial strategy, core policies and implementation framework for the supply of minerals and management of waste in Oxfordshire to 2030.  The County Council carried out consultation on draft Minerals and Waste Planning Strategies in September/October 2011.  Responses were received from 779 individuals and organisations, including 548 objections to a new mineral working area at Cholsey.

Overall the consultation has not resulted in any substantive issues being raised that call into question the principles of the draft strategies.  But a number of more detailed issues have been raised, in response to which some changes to the strategy policies are proposed.

The consultation responses, issues raised and possible changes to policies have been considered by the Minerals and Waste Plan Working Group; and the Growth and Infrastructure Scrutiny Committee on 27 February 2012 considered key issues arising from the consultation and proposed changes to policies in response to them.

The report sets out the key issues arising from the consultation and actions that have been undertaken in response to them.  It draws conclusions on where changes need to be made to polices and it puts forward a set of proposed changes to the minerals, waste and core polices and the minerals and waste vision and objectives, for inclusion in a revised Minerals and Waste Core Strategy.

The next stage in the process, subject to approval by full Council, is for the revised Minerals and Waste Core Strategy to be published for public comment and submitted to the government for independent examination.

The Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to:

(a)  agree the amended minerals, waste and core policies in Annex 1 and the amended minerals and waste vision and objectives in Annex 2 as the basis of the Minerals and Waste Core Strategy ? Proposed Submission Document for approval by the full County Council.

(b)  delegate authority to finalise the Minerals and Waste Core Strategy ? Proposed Submission Document, including amendments to the supporting text, to the Cabinet Member for Growth & Infrastructure.

(c)  delegate authority to finalise the County Council?s responses to the comments made in response to the Minerals Planning Strategy and Waste Planning Strategy Consultation Drafts, September 2011 to the Cabinet Member for Growth & Infrastructure.

(d)  RECOMMEND to the full County Council that the Minerals and Waste Core Strategy ? Proposed Submission Document as finalised by the Cabinet Member for Growth & Infrastructure be approved and be published to enable representations to be made and submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination.

News - 13 November 2011

The County Council published its draft waste and minerals extraction policies for public consultation in September.  The consultation has now closed.  Nuneham Courtenay is excluded from further consideration at this stage, as expected, but the Parish is not complacent.  The Parish Council has reviewed the document and made comment. The response expresses support to the broad principles of:

  • reduced scale of extraction
  • aims to ensure environmental and social issues are addressed
  • recognition that the Nuneham site has been correctly excluded on the grounds of how it measures against above issues
  • the possibility of windfalls of gravel through on-site development

CAGE, a new group to fight against the proposal to bring back consideration of sites in the Cholsey area has launched a legal challenge to the draft policy. 
Oxford Mail article - 10 November 2011.

The following link will open up the relevant County Council webpages -  OCC Draft Minerals Strategy

News - 26 March 2011

At its meeting on 9 March 2011 the County's Infrastructure Scrutiny Committee agreed that the County's Cabinet had acted properly in the decision it had taken on 16 February and that all the decisions reached should stand (see below).

The Minerals and Waste Local Development Framework process now continues with work being carried out on the waste element of the strategy.  The draft Framework documents will be published for public consultation in June/July of 2011.

The Parish Council is not complacent and will continue to monitor the development of the Framework.

News - 26 February 2011

A number of County Councillors have 'called-in' the County Council Cabinet's decision reached on 16 February 2011 for review by the Scrutiny Committee for the following reasons:

The decision by the Cabinet on 16th February 2011 Agenda Item 8 b(i) is contrary to the interests of Oxfordshire residents primarily due to insufficient consideration of the issue of sustainability, which would naturally lead to a hybrid solution in the interests of all parties; this implies that too little emphasis has been placed on the problems of crossing the River Thames, since the larger needs for gravel south of the Thames at Grove, Didcot, Harwell and the like should be administered from pits in their local vicinity. This is supported by secondary issues, which together merit reconsideration of the spatial strategy approach, such as spreading the onus, aftercare and infrastructure. 

The meeting is expected to be held in the next couple of weeks and Cllr Lyndsey-Gale will attend.

News - 19 February 2011

The County Council's Cabinet met on 16 February 2011 to discuss, amongst other things, the report from the Minerals and Waste Strategy working group.  The report recommended:

  • Adopting the target for gravel and sand extraction at 1.26 mill. tonnes per annum (as opposed to the current nationally set target of 2.1 mill. tonnes);
  • implementing the above target with immediate effect;
  • agreeing the areas to be developed and therefore excluding the proposed Nuneham Courtenay and Radley sites. (The sites list now includes a site at Cholsey).

The Cabinet received representations from local County councillors, including our own councillor Lorraine Lyndsey-Gale.  Lorraine supported the proposals noting that all 8 parishes in her ward are now to be excluded from the proposed sites options.  The Cabinet voted 8 to 1 in favour of the recommendations.  The process of developing the Minerals and Waste Development Framework now proceeds with investigation of waste sites and with the drafting of the documentation for pubic consultation in June/July.

The good news is that neither the Radley nor Nuneham sites will feature in the areas that it is proposed to be developed.

Whilst the Parish Council will continue to monitor the proposals we hope that this is an end to the matter.  The report to the Cabinet suggested that it was unlikely that the Nuneham site would ever be likely to gain planning permission (for its heritage and archaeological importance)  However the need for gravel will not go away.

It is important to thank all those people involved in helping raise awareness of the possible gravel site in the first place and who have supported the Parish Council in tackling this issue.  They are many and varied but include Deborah Hay and the Global Retreat Centre.  Representations were also made by local interest groups and our MP has also been monitoring progress.

A copy of the report on gravel extraction quantities, together with an update on the latest position and background information on the County's Minerals and Waste Development Framework , is available at County Council Minerals web-page.  Papers presented at the Cabinet meeting are available via the following link - Cabinet meeting papers and reports.

Previous notes

At Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet meeting on 19 October 2010 the Cabinet accepted the recommendation to adopt the option to develop existing working areas in progressing the drafting of the Core Strategy.  The option includes the site in Nuneham Courtenay.  Councillor Lorraine Lyndsey-Gale, whilst recommending the adoption of the option, also spoke on behalf of Nuneham Courtenay Parish Council against the inclusion of the site as an 'existing option'.  It is clear that the Nuneham site is not in an existing working area. The Cabinet noted that this was a disparity.  However the comment was made that sites also needed to be considered that would serve the areas where the gravel is needed.  The meeting also noted that consultants had been appointed to establish the levels of extraction. 

The Parish Council submitted its analysis of the Nuneham site to County's Planning Officers in January 2011.  This explained planning reasons why both Nuneham and Radley sites should be removed from further consideration.  Copies are available on request.

The Minerals and Waste Development Framework

250 years ago the village of Nuneham Courtenay was moved to its current location on the main road.  The then Earl Harcourt  had the vlllage moved from its location close to the house he had built to its current location in order that the views over the river towards Oxford would be improved.  250 years later, at its meeting on 19 October 2010, Oxfordshire County Council?s cabinet put the land in the centre of this view under threat of gravel extraction.

The County Council has planning responsibility for producing a strategy for mineral extraction and waste disposal in the County.  The existing plan is due to be revised and a new ?framework? developed that will set the proposals for a fifteen year period (up to 2026). 

The County Council has been consulting on the emerging Minerals Development Framework.  The strategy that is being developed is now focused on extraction of gravel from sites around ?existing working areas?.  Sites either side of the Thames, at Radley and Nuneham Courtenay, (link opens up map in new window - approx 1 mb) are included in the preferred option.  The selection of this option has reduced the risk of the development of sites further to the south, which might also have had an impact on the village and surrounding area ? which is small comfort.

Whilst it is undeniable that the Nuneham site is not in an existing gravel working area it is clear, if levels of gravel extraction require, that the site at Nuneham may well be a preferred option for development because of its proximity to the ring road and the relatively low level of population near the site.  Inclusion of the site in the current preferred option is not accidental.

The Parish Council has discussed the gravel extraction issue at recent meetings and has expressed concerns at the impact of the proposals on the Parish

The Nuneham site

The following notes are based on the submission made by the University to the County?s call for possible gravel working sites.  The Nuneham site?

  • Is located on land between Upper and Lower Farms
  • Extends from the river bank halfway towards the roadway
  • Starts next to the homes at Lower Farm Lane and Ferry Cottage
  • Would have road access coming onto the A4074 by the entrance to Lower Farm Lane
  • Might also be connected across to the Radley site to allow gravel from that site to be extracted via the Nuneham site
  • Is in Green Belt
  • Would be clearly visible from Nuneham Park, the A4074 and would affect the setting of Nuneham Park when viewed from various vantage points
  • Would inevitably create noise and dirt
  • Once gravel is extracted would be reinstated to provide:
  • a rowing course
  • land for agriculture
  • wildlife habitats
  • Would probably not be required for about 8 years.  It might take 20 years to extract
  • Might encourage the expansion of the site/workings into adjoining areas in the future
  • Would have an impact on significant Roman archaeological remains and fritillary meadows
  • Would have an impact on prime agricultural land

What the Parish Council has done so far:

Since the meeting in July 2010 the PC has:

  • Investigated the proposals
  • Attended workshop meetings at which the County explained its latest thinking
  • Met with residents from Lower Farm Lane and The Global Retreat Centre Centre to discuss the proposals and hear of objections
  • Made representations to OCC on the basis of the spatial strategy
  • Made further representations to OCC prior to the Cabinet meeting expressing concerns of the designation of the Nuneham site as being within an existing working area?
  • Had representations made by our County Councillor to the Cabinet meeting
  • Engaged with Radley, Baldons and Sandford Parish Councils
  • Spoken with the County?s planning officer over the process
  • Engaged with local interest groups, District Councillors and our MP to seek help in fighting inclusion of the site in the final Minerals and Waste Development Framework

The Parish Council remains committed to fight the development of the site as it would have a significant impact on the Parish. There is a need to remain vigilent over coming months and to comment on the propose Framework when it is published in draft form in the summer.


If you have thoughts, ideas, or want to get involved, then please contact Colin George on 01865 343767 or [email protected] or via the Parish Council website (

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