PROTECT WICKLESHAM QUARRY FROM DEVELOPMENT

 The Judicial Review of Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan will take place on 14-15 June 2017 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

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Wicklesham Quarry SSSI lies outside the market town of Faringdon, in the western Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire. It is in an area of high landscape value, the Corallian Ridge, outside the town's development boundary. Planning conditions state it must be restored to agriculture. However, it is safeguarded in Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan for use for heavy industry and warehousing (B2/B8).

Natural England calls it “one of Britain’s richest palaeontological localities”. It is an internationally famous geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with a "very rich and unusual assemblage" of over 150 species of fossils, including rare sponges, many of which are known to occur only at Faringdon. It also has fossil reptiles - turtles, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and crocodiles. It is a "type site"- which means Faringdon has given its name to unique aspects of Wicklesham's geology: Faringdon fossils, Faringdon Greensands, and the Faringdon Sponge Gravels.

Although the old quarry is no longer being worked, it has still not been restored.* Restoration would involve recreating a fertile soil bed in the quarry base using the original topsoil, and preserving the fossil-rich walls and naturalised plant and wildlife. The quarry's ponds have breeding colonies of toads, smooth and palmate newts, and Great Crested Newts, a European Protected Species. Wicklesham tetrad also has eleven plant species listed as ‘rare’. Following restoration, Wicklesham would soon become an exceptionally rich natural habitat, a local community resource and educational and scientific destination, and an important attraction for visitors.

Wicklesham Quarry is part of West Oxfordshire Heights Conservation Target Area- for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. It lies beneath the viewing point of Galley Hill, at the centre of a network of well-used local footpaths connecting Faringdon to the villages of Fernham and Little Coxwell, and the Iron Age fort of Ringdale.

It is the key to Faringdon's historic landscape setting and coral limestone architecture, mid-way between the chalk downs of the Ridgeway and the Upper Thames.

The owner has been trying to turn the quarry into an industrial/ warehousing site for the past eight years. In order to avoid restoring it, it was used for storing imported sand and gravels until 2016. Four independent reviews have found that turning Wicklesham into an industrial site is unjustified and /or unsustainable (URS Ltd 2008 & 2013; VWH District Council Preferred Options Report 2009; Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan Sustainability Appraisal 2014).

Faringdon Town Council has rejected every independent assessment, even those it commissioned itself, and the Neighbourhood Plan seeks to safeguard Wicklesham quarry as B2- B8 ‘employment land’. This means the landowner would be able to by-pass normal planning safeguards in order to develop the quarry, regardless of local objections.

Supporters of the campaign to Protect Wicklesham Quarry from Development have challenged Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan’s use of evidence provided by local developers, on the grounds that it is inaccurate and misleading. We believe that the plan fails to meet the Basic Conditions.  The High Court has now granted permission for a Judicial Review of the Vale of White Horse District Council's decision to adopt Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan.  

Help me to protect this amazing, irreplaceable site before it's too late! Get in touch with any questions or comments by email to: protectwicklesham@gmail.com.

 * In December 2016 Oxfordshire County Council served Grundon Ltd with a Breach of Conditions Notice for failing to carry out the Restoration Scheme, and set a new deadline of 30th June 2017. The main photograph shows one of the ponds that has to be preserved as part of the Restoration Scheme. 

For recent updates to the story of this campaign, - including photographs of the same pond following attempts to trash it - please scroll down the page. 

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Faringdon Town Council, The Vale of White Horse District Council, & Secretary of State, Sajid Javid


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