VILLAGERS fighting plans for a sand and gravel quarry on the banks of the Thames won the backing of their Conservative parliamentary candidate yesterday.

John Howell, who is standing for the Henley constituency, met campaigners in Clifton Hampden to learn more about their fight.

Mr Howell was met by members of BACHPORT – Burcot and Clifton Hampden for the Protection of the River Thames.

They told him of their anger at Hills Quarry Products’ plans to extract sand and gravel from 160 hectares over 25 years between Clifton, Culham, Appleford and Long Wittenham.

Speaking to more than 30 protestors Mr Howell said: “I will back you all the way in your fight to prevent this quarry.

“It is un-warranted and would spoil this attractive part of the riverside. The whole area is rich in archaeological sites and should not be disturbed.

“The county council should not have approved plans to increase the amount of aggregate extracted from land in Oxfordshire.”

A planning application for the scheme is still awaited from the company.

Hills previously said the site was “strategically located to provide sand and gravel materials to the southern part of Oxfordshire for economic development”, and said restoration of the site after its 20-year lifespan was expected to include a lake for water sports.

Mr Howell was joined for the meeting by Oxfordshire county councillors for the area Lorraine Lindsay-Gale and Lynda Atkins, who voted against the county’s increased extraction policy, and South Oxfordshire District councillor John Cotton.

Also standing for Henley are Sam Juthani for Labour, Liberal Democrat Susan Cooper, Christopher Jones for Ukip and the Green Party’s Mark Stevenson.