'ONE of the most exciting wildlife site in Oxfordshire' could be destroyed by 'abhorrent' plans for a massive new lorry park.

Developer Greystoke Land announced last month that it was drawing up plans to build a major new ‘logistics hub’ at Waterstock Golf Club.

The 200-acre site next to Junction 8A of the M40 at Thame would be home to a combination of warehouses with office space.

But as the site is on the green belt and next to Waterstock Flood Meadows nature reserve, residents and conservationists have now said it would be an ‘abhorrent’ blight on the countryside.

Also read: Waterstock Golf Club under threat as warehouse plans loom

Henry Manisty, who lives in Waterstock Mill, said: “Because of the very extensive floodplain between Wheatley and Thame, the reserve is one of the most exciting Oxfordshire wildlife sites.

“To build this distribution site is going to have a very serious impact on the wildlife in the area as it will share the same floodplain.

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Residents attended a ceremony in April 2019 when Waterstock meadows were officially designated as Oxfordshire's newest Local Wildlife Site. Picture: Ed Nix

“Wildlife don’t understand boundaries, so if it is built, animals simply won’t come back. The reserve is so unspoilt, it’s crazy for anyone to think of putting a logistics hub next door to it.”

Waterstock Flood Meadows is located along a small stretch of the River Thame near Wheatley and is home to more rare or endangered animals than almost any other site in the county.

One of the these animals is the curlew, the UK’s largest wading bid, and one of the UK’s most rapidly-declining breeding bird species.

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The River Thame at Waterstock has become a haven for the threatened birds but conservationists say an increase in pollution in the area due to the proposed logistics hubs would endanger its habitat.

Nick Marriner, who has been a trustee of the River Thames Conservation Trust for four-and-a-half years, said the development would be devastating.

He said: "The site is at the heart of breeding curlew habitat so we will do everything we can to protect them. Any threat to their habitat is a major concern for us.

Also read: Waterstock Mill meadows on River Thame made a Local Wildlife Site

"Anything to disturb curlews such as buildings, noise and pollution could be catastrophic. Increased pollution is not conducive to rare birds breeding.

"The reserve is a nationally protected habitat and it's had a relatively young period of monitoring. It’s probably the most important area along the River Thame.

"Animals don’t respect boundaries and every time you break them, it chips away at habitat loss. The logistics hub would destroy habitats.

“It’s a fantastic site and we want to keep it that way."

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Anthony Crean for Greystoke Land declared in a letter that he intended to address Waterstock Parish Meeting on May 29 about the development.

However, the council said that less than an hour before the meeting, he sent his apologies admitting he was not able to answer the questions.

The council, which has already voted unanimously against the proposal, believes the development would produce around 14,000 vehicle trips per day which would mean in peak hours almost 1,000 movements.

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It says damage to the water table, noise and light pollution, sewage, water run-off/flooding, brake/tyre dust would all have massively damaging impacts to the quality of environment, local wildlife, the floodplain and green belt.

Mr Crean said: "We will be bringing forward detailed proposals for public consultation in the future, and this will include information on environment and landscaping.

"Members of the project team will also be in attendance at the public consultation to answer any specific questions in relation to the water meadows and local wildlife, and feedback forms will be available so residents can leave their comments on any issues."