A CONSULTATION period has begun for the public to have their say over the extraction of millions of tonnes of gravel and sand from sites in the Cricklade area.

Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough have produced the blueprint to guide the use of land within the county for the provision of aggregate minerals.

Residents have been warned that they cannot stop the 14-year plans going ahead and that consultation is simply an opportunity to challenge technical points or inaccuracies that the document is based on.

From 62 possible sites put forward by landowners for extraction, seven have been identified as being able to produce more than a million tonnes of gravel and sand per year to meet demand up to the year 2026.

Of the seven sites, five are in Upper Thames Valley including Cox’s Farm and Blackburr Farm near Marston Meysey, North Farm near Cricklade, land east of Calcutt and land at Cotswold Community near Ashton Keynes.

Further sites identified for extraction include land near Compton Bassett and an extension to Brickworth Quarry.

And a ten to twenty year plan for further gravel extraction across Gloucestershire is expected later this year.

If approved, it could mean a surge of heavy goods vehicles on roads in north Wiltshire.

Wiltshire councillor for Cricklade, Latton and Marston Meysey, Peter Colmer, said he was worried about the concentration of both extraction and associated waste disposal sites in the area.

"There’d be a higher degree of concentration of HGV traffic going through Cricklade and knock-on effects for Purton, Latton and Marston Meysey," he said.

The planned quantity of extracted gravel and sand will be sustainable and not compromise Wiltshire’s rich environmental and cultural heritage, according to Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for Economy, Cllr Fleur de Rhe-Philipe.

"We believe we have a sound plan," she said. "This last round of consultation will enable people to look at the document and challenge any technical points or inaccuracies in the evidence on which we have based these plans."

Cllr Colmer said he planned to ask for an assessment to be carried out to discover the impact of the scheme on roads so that a traffic management scheme could be created.

"We can’t stop the sites," he said. "All we can try to do is manage the effect."

Comments can be made on technical issues and inaccuracies in the proposed development plan until March 12. For links to the document go to http://consult.wiltshire.gov.uk/portal