Stephen Bowley Planning Consultancy
Non-Technical Summary
Proposed Western Extension of Hatford Quarry – Non-Technical Summary of
Environmental Statement
A planning application has been submitted by Hatford Quarry Limited to Oxfordshire County
Council for the extraction of Sand and Limestone in an extension area to the west of Hatford
Quarry. The proposed extension area is approximately 9ha, and will be resorted, along with
the existing quarry, to agricultural land.
Oxfordshire County Council has determined that the proposal should be subject to an
Environmental Impact Assessment. This required an assessment of the potential
environmental effects that the proposal may have. An Environmental Statement has been
prepared which covers the environmental issues requested by the County Council in their
Scoping Opinion. The statement accompanies the planning application
This summary intends to provide a non-technical account of the contents of the
Environmental Statement. For further, more detailed information on the issues discussed in
this summary, the full Environmental Statement should be referred to. Copies of the site
location plan, scheme of working and restoration plan have been included at the back of this
Site Description
Hatford Quarry is located in the Vale of the White Horse district approximately 0.9km north
west of Hatford Village and 4km east of Faringdon. Sandy Lane acts as a boundary to the
north of the site, with agricultural farmland surrounding the other boundaries. Restored
agricultural farmland is also located north of Sandy Lane, where sand extraction once took
Planning permission was granted for the extraction of sand at the site in 1991, and subsequent
planning permissions were later granted for the extraction of limestone in the central and
western areas of the quarry. A new access from the B4508 was approved in 1991, which still
acts as the existing haul road to the quarry and the proposed site.
Sand extraction has been completed in the central and eastern areas of the quarry, with the
closest area to Hatford Village still remaining to be worked. Limestone extraction has been
completed in the central area, with work currently being carried out in the eastern area. This
will be completed in early 2013 and subsequently restored in accordance with the
requirements of the planning permission.
Proposed Development
An extension area of approximately 9ha to the west of the existing Hatford Quarry has been
proposed for the extraction of Highworth Sand and Highworth Limestone. It is estimated that
the proposed western extension area contains around 680,000 tonnes of sand and limestone,
and is necessary to maintain production at the quarry for a further 6 years. The application
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area covers the proposed extension site, as well as the central area of the existing plant site,
site access points, and haul roads (see Site Location Plan).
The depth of the sand and limestone varies. The depth of sand is 5 metres on the northern
boundary and then thins out towards the south. The depth of limestone varies from 2.2 metres
to up to 7 metres thick. The existing ground levels decline from 104 metres aod at the north
west to 88 metres aod at the south east. The depth of working varies, with a maximum of
approximately 12 metres.
The existing eastern working area is due to be completed early 2013, and it is proposed that
extraction of the western extension area will follow. It is intended that the proposed extension
site will be worked at a rate of approximately 120,000 tonnes a year, with a working life of
approximately 5-6 years. Mineral extraction of the proposed extension area will occur in a
staged manner. Operations will use the existing processing plant, access/haulage routes,
weighbridge, and office buildings. The extracted sand will be used as building sand, whilst
the limestone, which is a high quality, type 1 aggregate, will be used for a wide range of
construction uses. The minerals will be principally used in Oxfordshire, as well as the
adjoining counties of Berkshire and Wiltshire.
The sand will be removed by excavator and taken by dump truck to the existing processing
area, where it will be screened and graded. Limestone will be extracted using a 70 tonne
hydraulic excavator. The use of a ‘pecker’ at the quarry face has been intentionally avoided.
Excavated limestone will be taken by dump truck to the processing area, where it will be
crushed, screened and graded.
The proposed working and restoration of the application area will be carried out in phases, as
shown on the scheme of working. The sequence of working has been divided into five
Phase 1: Pumping, backfilling and regrading of the central quarry area.
Phase 2: Construction of screening and safety bunds on the northern, western and southern
boundaries of the proposed extension area.
Phase 3: Mineral extraction will commence, firstly in the northern part of the site (Phase 3N)
and then progressed into the south (Phase 3S).
Phase 4: Mineral extraction will continue into the northern (Phase 4N) and then southern
(Phase 4S) areas of the site.
Phase 5: Site restoration will be carried out.
It is proposed for the land to be restored to a lower level than the existing agricultural land.
The site will be restored to an agricultural use in accordance with the landowner’s
requirements. It is also proposed to add ecological value to the restored site by retaining and
re-contouring two settlement lagoons, as well as planting trees and providing a wildlife
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corridor alongside Sandy Lane. A Geological RIGS site will also be provided in the Upper
Corallian Strata on the northern boundary, which is accessible from Sandy Lane.
Environmental Statement
The Environmental Statement covers the issues identified by Oxfordshire County Council
through the formal ‘Scoping’ process. These issues have been dealt with by a team of
specialist consultants and are summarised below.
Landscape and Visual Impact
An assessment of the landscape and visual impacts of the proposed development has been
undertaken by David Jarvis Associates Limited (DJA). The assessment looks at the predicted
landscape and visual impacts that will arise from the quarry extension and restoration. A field
survey was carried out in March 2012 to assess the local landscape character.
The application site is located within the National Character Area 109 and Regional
Character Area of Midvale Ridge, as well as the Stanford in the Vale Local Character Area,
which is assessed as being of moderate sensitivity to change. The site is also located within
the North Vale Corallian Ridge (NVCR); a local landscape designation that restricts
development which would harm the prevailing character and appearance on the landscape.
The assessment found that the proposed development will only have moderate effects on the
prevailing character and appearance of the NVCR. There will be slight beneficial effects as a
result of the site being restored to agricultural use and with the opening up of previously
obstructed views.
The effects of the proposed development on landscape characteristics and value were
assessed. The assessment looked at the potential effects on local landscape character, scenic
quality, tranquillity, rarity value, cultural heritage, county wildlife sites, and public rights of
way. It found that the proposed operations would mostly have moderate or slight adverse
effects on these landscape characteristics in the short to medium term. The proposed
restoration of the site, which would include a change to agricultural use, structured
hedgerows and tree planting on high ground, would have moderate beneficial landscape
impacts in the long term.
Thirteen viewpoints of the proposed development were surveyed to assess its visual impact.
The visual effect of the proposed development would be largely mitigated by the proposed
bunding, which would screen proposed extraction operations from the majority of
viewpoints. Temporary stockpiling may be visible from the majority of viewpoints,
particularly from the south-east, south and west of the application site. However, these views
would be seen in the context of the existing quarry.
The Hideaway, which has a side view over the quarry, is most sensitive to the visual impacts
of the proposed development. The proposed bank will screen views of the quarry from The
Hideaway and will mitigate its visual impact.
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A noise assessment has been carried out by The Walter Beak Mason Partnership (WBM) who
are an independent acoustic consultancy that specialise in quarry mineral noise. The
assessment was carried out with regard to the technical guidance on noise recommended in
the Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework.
Noise assessments were carried out in 2005 and 2007, and baseline noise climate information
at locations in the surrounding area was obtained in March 2005 and September 2007 for
those noise assessments. Additional baseline noise measurements were also obtained in
December 2010 and January 2011. Site noise calculations were undertaken for four locations,
taken to be representative of the nearest dwellings selected for the assessment for the
proposed extension site. These locations were The Hideaway and Woodlands on Sandy Lane,
Manor House in Hatford and Chinham Farm to the south west.
The assessment finds that site noise levels ‘without mitigation’ are in line with the provisions
of the Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework and do not exceed the
suggested noise levels at the nearest dwellings, with the exception of The Hideaway on
Sandy Lane. A 6 to 8 metre bund is proposed along the western edge of the extension site to
mitigate noise and will be in place before extraction operations commence. Noise levels with
mitigation measures in place are within the suggested noise limits for all of the considered
dwellings. The proposals are also within the noise limit for temporary works, as specified in
current Government guidance. However, noise generated by the breaking of limestone in the
vicinity of the processing plant, will be clearly noticeable at times at the nearest dwellings.
It is understood that the output of the quarry will be similar to the current output, meaning
that there will be no significant change in HGV traffic on the local road network. It is
therefore considered that there will be no additional noise from HGV movements.
The assessment concludes that noise from the proposed site operations should be rated as
satisfactory, as the relevant site noise limits, which are based on the Technical Guidance to
the National Planning Policy Framework, are met.
Dust Scan Ltd have carried our dust monitoring in relation to the application area in 2009 and
2012, including fine particles. They had previously undertaken dust monitoring at Hatford
Quarry during the spring of 2005 and 2007, and later carried out further monitoring from
August to October 2007. Monitoring that was undertaken in 2005 covered the northern,
eastern and western limits of the main quarry, with monitoring in 2007 including two
additional locations along Sandy Lane. The company therefore has a very good record of dust
conditions at and around the quarry.
Dust monitoring that was undertaken in 2005 found that dust risk levels were very low at all
times. In 2007, dust monitoring was carried out in three periods between 2 March and 28
April, 4 September and 21 November, and, 28 August and 4 September. There were three
occasions where high and very high dust levels were found during the first period between
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March and April. Two occasions of high dust levels were found during the second period
between August and November. However, it was found that dust would not travel towards the
nearest dust receptors, such as The Hideaway and Hatford, and in one case dust was
discovered to be coming from the arable field on the northern side of Sandy lane. With the
exception of these periods, dust risk levels were found to be low or very low for other periods
and for other dust monitors.
Dust monitoring that was undertaken in 2009 and 2012 was concerned with the potential of
dust travelling from the proposed western extension to Hideaway. Monitoring took place over
twelve 14-day periods between 19 February and 6 August. High risk levels of dust movement
were found during five of these periods. However, at almost all other times there were very
low or low levels of dust risk found. Monitoring showed evidence that workings in Hatford
Quarry contributed to dust movements principally from the south or south west. These dust
movements would have travelled into the arable fields situated to the north of Sandy Lane,
with no residential or commercial properties within several hundred feet. Arable farmland
located to the north, south east and south west also appeared to be dust sources on several
occasions. There was found to be no likely dust impact for Hatford residents, and no
indication was found that dust would have travelled to The Hideaway. Very low levels of
dust risk were found at Hideaway during the period between 19 February and 9 July. High
levels of dust risk were found between 29 July and 6 August, although this is indicated to be
from the south west, which suggests that the principal source will be from arable farmland.
The proposed 6-8 metre high screening bank close to the garden at the rear of The Hideaway
should reduce levels of dust influx and depositional dust on the leeward side. It is proposed
that dust monitoring is undertaken on both sides of the proposed screening bank on the
commencement of workings on the western extension site.
Malford Environmental Consultancy was asked to undertake an ecological survey and
appraisal of the proposed site. A phase 1 habitat survey was undertaken on 7th May 2009,
with additional surveys carried out on 5th December 2011 and 24th April 2012 to supplement
the initial findings. The proposed site does not fall within any statutory or non-statutory
nature conservation designations, although it is covered by a Landscape Type designated as
‘Wooded Estatelands’.
Shepherds Needle
The ecological survey found that the vast majority of plants at the site are common and
widespread. However, a very small colony of Shepherds needle, which is an endangered
plant, was found located at the southern end of the western embankment. This plant is rare in
Oxfordshire and the survey concluded that it should have an ecological value at the county
As the western embankment is to be removed, mitigation measures will be implemented to
prevent the plant from being destroyed. These measures include the installation of high
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visibility plastic fencing around the area of Shepherds needle to avoid the plant from being
cut when the embankment is mowed. The plant will be carefully removed and translocated
before the western embankment is removed. It will be translocated to a site in the north-east
corner of the restored quarry, situated to the east of the main quarry site.
A small badger sett was found on the southern boundary of the application area, and badgers
were deemed to be foraging through the study area, mainly along the boundary habitats. With
the exception of badgers, no other legally protected mammals, or wildlife of note, were
found, although brown hare, which is a UKBAP species, do forage the study area.
The badger sett is located approximately 100m away from the proposed site extraction
boundary and is unlikely to be affected by operations on the site. As a precaution, it is
recommended that the removal of the western embankment is carried out at an appropriate
time, so that badgers are not accidentally injured. The preferred restoration strategy involves
leaving the badger sett in situ and design restoration work to avoid the sett with an
appropriate seclusion zone. As with the removal of the western embankment, restoration
work will be carried out at an appropriate time to avoid accidental injuries to badgers.
Nesting Birds
Nesting birds were found to be present at the study area and included some UKBAP, Red List
and WCA Sch1 species. This included ground nesting species, such as Skylark and Grey
Partridge, which are considered to be potentially present within the interior of the arable field.
It is also considered that there is potential for species to be nesting along the embankment.
Sand Martins were also found to be nesting in some quarry cliff faces.
Mitigation measures have been proposed to avoid damaging, disturbing or destroying birds
and their nests. All work involving topsoil stripping, vegetation removal, in-filling of quarry
and destruction of sand cliffs will be carried out from early March to the end of April, as this
is considered to be outside the bird breeding season. If this cannot be done then a nesting bird
survey will be undertaken by a qualified ecologist or ornithologist before the commencement
of such works. If nesting birds are found to be present then work in that area will stop until
the fledglings have left the nest. Also, if nesting birds move into the area post-survey then
works in the immediate area must stop and an ecologist consulted.
It is also proposed that during operations of the western extension new sand cliffs are created
for sand martins to colonise.
No bat roosts were found within the study area, although there is potential for common bats
to forage and commute along boundary habitats, with a single common pipstrelle bat noted to
be foraging within the study area.
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It was deemed that the western and southern embankments provide little opportunity for
basking or foraging reptiles. However, the road verge habitats which border the north of
study area along Sandy Lane do provide some limited habitat for reptiles, with common
lizard being recorded along Sandy Lane in 2005.
Great Crested Newt
Two areas of waterbodies within the existing quarry site were deemed potentially suitable for
breeding great crested newts. Great Crested Newt surveys were conducted on these
waterbodies, which included a shallow pond in the north and the pair of lagoons in the southeast. No evidence of great crested newt was found in the northern pond, but the existing water
management ponds in the south east were found to support a population of European
protected Great Crested Newt. It was deemed that this population was small and had only
recently arrived at the pond. Although no direct evidence of breeding was found, it was
considered likely that breeding has occurred in the pond. However, it does appear likely that
a long-term, sustainable breeding population has yet to be fully established. The survey
concluded that the south-eastern pond and the great crested newt population have an
ecological value at the Parish scale.
Mitigation measures have been proposed to avoid the disturbance, damage or destruction of
Great Crested Newt or their habitat. These include measures to prevent the migration of great
crested newt from the pond to the embankment before it is removed. It is proposed to
frequently mow the grass sward, so that it is maintained at a short length, as this will prevent
ideal foraging habitat for great crested newt. Also, if practicable, the embankment will be
removed between the months of October and November, as great crested newt will be within
over-wintering hibernacula away from the embankment at this time. These actions will not
require a National England Protected Species (EPS) Licence.
Restoration of the main quarry will include re-shaping and re-profiling of the existing two
lagoons, and therefore a Natural England licence may be needed for the specific mitigation. It
is also proposed that at least one year prior to any restoration, the south-eastern pond will be
re-surveyed to see whether great crested newt have stayed or abandoned the pond. If newts
are found to be present then a rapid population assessment will be undertaken.
Wildlife habitats and features
Three ponds, totalling approximately 0.7ha, will be created within the site and will be
allowed to naturally vegetate via colonisation of plant species that currently present on site.
Approximately 0.92ha of tussocky grassland will be created on restored land around the
ponds and on land connecting the ponds.
Approximately 1.7ha of broad-leaved woodland and willow scrub will be planted. The main
block of the woodland will be located along the northern boundary, whilst the willow scrub
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will be created around the new ponds in the south and east of the site. Approximately 555m
of new, species rich hedgerow will also be planted.
Logs and bush wood, along with scrub and hedgerow management, will be stacked in the
woodlands and scrub, at the base of hedgerows, or around waterbodies, to provide wildlife
habitat features. Twelve bespoke over-wintering hibernacula will also be constructed adjacent
to the ponds and within the willow scrub to encourage the use of the area by various forms of
Future site conditions
The assessment recommends that an ecological walkover survey is conducted before each
phase of work commences, to determine whether protected species are present. If protected
species are found to be present then any planned work or restoration must use topsoil that is
stored in an area free from constraints, and work should stop until an appropriate mitigation
strategy has been developed and agreed with the County ecologist, and potentially Natural
Physical Characteristics, Aftercare and Drainage
The assessment of agriculture and soils has been undertaken by RMA Environmental Ltd,
specialists in Agricultural Land Classification.
A 2.4ha parcel of subgrade 3a land (based on the Agricultural Land Classification) is located
in the northern part of the proposed extension area, adjacent to Sandy Lane. Here, agricultural
land quality is deemed to be limited by the restricted supply of water in the soil available for
plant uptake. The remaining 10.0ha of agricultural land within the proposed extension area is
subgrade 3b. The quality of this agricultural land is also limited, due to moderate soil
droughtiness. The proportion of ‘best and most versatile land’ is therefore approximately
20% of the extension site area, including margins.
The restoration scheme proposes to restore agricultural land of a high standard. Restoration
will involve stripping the topsoil and subsoil and storing them in bunds located around the
perimeter of the western extension area. The assessment proposes that by using this stripped
and stored soil, it would be possible to place a 120cm soil profile, in layers, over the surface
of the area to be restored to agriculture.
The Aftercare and Drainage Scheme will aim to improve the structure and stability of the soil
within the land restored to agriculture, which will encourage healthy plant (crop)
establishment and growth. The phasing of restoration and aftercare will follow the permitted
phasing of topsoil and subsoil stripping, mineral extraction and replacement of the soil
Hydrology and Hydrogeology
Hafren Water was asked to undertake an assessment of the hydrology and hydrogeology of
the application site. The site is situated within the catchment of the River Ock, with the
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Frogmore Brook tributary flowing 700 metres south of the site boundary and passing beneath
the access road. Several waterbodies have been identified within the site, including two silt
settlement lagoons in the south east.
Groundwater level data indicates that a watertable exists towards the base of the Highworth
Limestone in the south of the application area. The deepest limestone, around 2.2 metres, is
below the watertable and therefore saturated. Groundwater flow is towards the south east of
the site, and therefore mineral in the northern area will be dry. Discharge of groundwater
occurs at Frogmore Brook.
Limited quarry dewatering will be required to enable the deepest limestone to be worked,
with this being a continuation of existing practices. Accumulation of groundwater and
rainwater will occur at the lowest point of the quarry void and will be periodically pumped
into the existing silt settlement lagoons in the south of the site. An existing consent allows
Hatford Quarry Ltd to discharge water from the silt settlement lagoons to Frogmore Brook.
The profile of the proposed restored land is above the watertable and, as a result, it will not be
a requirement to manage groundwater in the long-term.
Flood Risk
Hafren Water was asked to carry out a flood risk assessment of the proposed site. The risk of
flooding was assessed by examining the likelihood of flooding, the hazard caused if the site
were to flood and its vulnerability.
The proposed location of the quarry extension is situated within Flood Zone 1. This means
that the probability of the extraction area flooding is considered to be ‘very low’. The existing
access track crosses an area of Flood Zone 3, an area considered to have a high probability of
fluvial flooding. However, quarry operations are unlikely to be affected as the access track is
considered unlikely to be inundated for significant periods of time by the Frogmore Brook
that flows beneath it. There is no record of the track being flooded in the last 10 years.
The site receives limited amounts of run-off from the surrounding area, and therefore the risk
of surface water flooding is considered to be low. Any surface water run-off within the
extraction area will be managed in conjunction with groundwater.
John Moore Heritage Services was asked to carry out an archaeological desk-based
assessment. This was with the aim to provide a professional appraisal of the archaeological
potential of the site, as well as assess the likely impact of the proposed development on the
surviving archaeological resources. The available evidence has been collected from casual
finds, archaeological investigations, standing buildings and historic records. There has been
no archaeological work carried out at the proposed extension site, but investigations have
been carried out on the quarry on three occasions in 1991 and 2003.
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The area of Hatford Quarry has proven to be a rich area for archaeological finds. Two
excavations in the quarry have found evidence of Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age
Material, and Middle Iron Age to Roman material. Aerial photographs show two enclosures
on the area of the quarry before sand extraction commenced, and also revealed the remains of
four cropmarks on the proposed extension site. It would appear that Sandy Lane ridge was a
major focus for settlement in the Iron Age and investigation of the aerial photographs indicate
that the settlement continued beyond the northern enclosure located on the North West side of
the quarry.
The assessment recommends a mitigation strategy to record the surviving archaeology on the
site, as avoiding its destruction is unlikely. It recommends that a strip, map and record
strategy is involved in the mitigation strategy, as agreed with the county archaeologist.
Highways and Traffic
The existing quarry access onto the B4508 west of Hatford village was constructed in the
mid 1990’s to contemporary standards. It is a uni-directional design directing all traffic to
and from the west towards the A417 at Shellingford Crossroads. This route would be used
by all lorries in accordance with tan existing routeing agreement, except for local deliveries.
Hatford Quarry is a straightforward minerals extraction site with no importation of restoration
materials or recycling etc. The average weekday movements for minerals lorries is 48 per
day (24 in and 24 out). This is similar to previous traffic generation from the site.
There is no history of accidents associated with the quarry, and the road network clearly has
the capacity to accommodate the continuing vehicle movements at the quarry at these
relatively low levels.
The proposed development is for an extension to the west of Hatford Quarry for the
extraction of Sand and Limestone. Once extraction has been completed it is proposed for the
land to be restored to agricultural use.
The potential impacts and environmental issues associated with the proposed development
have been fully assessed by expert consultants and explained in detail in the Environmental
Statement. Potential environmental impacts that will arise as a result of the proposed
development have been identified, and appropriate mitigation measures have been proposed.
These measures are designed to remove or minimise these impacts and will make the
proposed development acceptable. The identified impacts and necessary measures to mitigate
them have been acknowledged by the applicant.
It is important to note that the findings of the assessment have shown that there is no single
issue that should prevent the proposed development from proceeding, once mitigation
measures have been carried out:
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Proposed operations would only have a moderate or slight adverse effect on landscape
in the short to long term. Restored land would have long term benefits. The visual
impact will be largely mitigated by the proposed bunding.
Noise levels with mitigation measures in place are within the suggested noise limits
for all considered nearby dwellings.
Dust risk levels are found to be low at the majority of times. The proposed screening
bank will reduce levels even further.
The impact on identified vegetation and wildlife on site will be avoided or minimised
using proposed mitigation measures. Wildlife habitats and features will be created
during restoration to increase the ecological value of the site.
The Restoration Scheme proposes to restore the area to a high standard of agricultural
land. The Aftercare and Drainage Scheme will improve the stability of the soil within
the restored land. This will encourage healthy plant (crop) establishment and growth.
Groundwater will be pumped into the existing settlement lagoons and consent has
been granted to discharge water to Frogmore Brook.
Flood risk is considered to be low and the volume of storage water required for a 1 in
100 year event can be accommodated.
A mitigation strategy has been recommended to record the surviving archaeology on
the site.
Having been informed by the environmental assessment, and with appropriate measures
proposed to minimise any adverse impacts, the proposal is considered to be the best option
for completing development of the site. It is also considered that the proposed development
will not cause any unacceptable residual environmental impact.
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Proposed Western Extension of Hatford Quarry * Non