Sir – Henley MP, Dr John Howell, joins Parishes Against Gravel Extraction in finding it unclear why there is such a large apportionment of gravel extraction to Oxfordshire, believing large amounts would have to be exported to other counties (Report, May 13).

He and PAGE seem unaware of Thames Water’s plans to construct a giant reservoir near Abingdon which will require millions of tonnes of gravel to line the clay and will be surrounded by gravel beaches (with the promise of a seaside experience for visitors) which will involve huge amounts of gravel.

Thus not only is TW planning to utterly destroy some seven square kilometres in the heart of the Vale, but also to cause destruction, devastation and disruption to many surrounding villages as well.

TW will obviously want to collect the gravel from as close to the site as possible.

Equally serious is that this Government-planned increased gravel extraction appears to pre-empt the public inquiry decision relating to the reservoir, suggesting Government has already approved construction.

We know the inquiry wishes to address only the strategic integrity of TW’s 30-year water plan, not whether the reservoir is necessary to fulfil it. I suggest John Howell seeks assurances from the new Environment Minister that the inquiry has not been instructed as to the outcome it should produce.

Acceptance of TW’s planned reservoir would make a mockery of the International Year of Biodiversity and Britain’s supposed commitment to halting biodiversity loss (Weekend, May 13).

Or was the latter just Government paying lip-service to an international convention it had signed up to and will this new government do the same?

C.A. Spinage, Faringdon