In 1998, Railtrack began to develop the land by building a quarry and updating the infrastructure without consultation – they are allowed to under Permitted Development Rights (the same rights that allow people to put up radio masts wherever they choose). When they publicly declared their ambitions the County asked for an Article 4 Directive and John Prescott, lately TwoJags, refused on the grounds that the development had already begun! In 2001 Railtrack declared that they were going to increase the development to at least double the size and the City was helpless, again because of PDR. Residents have been meeting with Railtrack/Network Rail all these years to try to minimise the damage to the environment and to reduce light pollution (moderately successfully), noise pollution (we have halted most of the hooting that went on day in, night out), and pollution from exhaust fumes. Many residents from the area are still very disturbed by all three intrusive pollutants but a few, it has to be admitted grudgingly, don’t seem to care. May of us are kept awake at night and disturbed during the day. Recently the mainstream media began to take an interest again and today the situation was on the news and is discussed on the front page of the OT and in the Mail too. http://www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk/oxfordshire/news/TOPNEWS0.html
(I was wearing an indymedia sticker but it doesn’t show up!) The actions taken by residents have included dumping a whole load of stones at the London head office in 1998, banners have been hung in trees in Hinksey Park, and the odd bit of graffiti and long. Long boring and not very productive meetings. We still call up Environmental Health every so often but after a time, you just tend to give up! There is very little we can do now but if ever anyone has a spare minute, it might be an idea to press for the recall of Permitted Development Rights for what usually seem to be unprincipled companies.
The next battle to maintain whatever green belt land / green fields will be to stop the iniquitous GTE, which is planned to cut a swathe through an SSI and then climb OVER the railway to a new terminus in what is now park land, soon to be full of daffodils between Grandpont and St Ebbes. (The other end of the route plans to move the canal at Wolvercote). Madness.