A public examination of a plan to extract five million tonnes of gravel has been delayed until after the county council elections.

Residents in Wallingford and Cholsey are opposed to the plan saying it will harm the countryside and damage the tourist trade.

The county council’s cabinet agreed its minerals and waste plan in March last year.

Even though the council approved the minerals plan, the protest group CAGE (Communities Against Gravel Extraction) is continuing to fight the plan. It launched a £30,000 fundraising appeal to fight the proposal and is frustrated with the delays.

Henry Thornton, chairman of CAGE said: “One way or another it needs to be resolved.

“We were anticipating the inquiry for this to be in November and it got moved to February, then to May, which is pretty unsatisfactory.”

According to the waste plan, 1.2m tonnes a year could be dug in Oxfordshire, from the Lower Windrush Valley, Eynsham, Cassington, Yarnton, Sutton Courtenay and Caversham, with Cholsey replacing Sutton Courtenay for gravel extraction from 2020 for 25 years.

Protesters say the move will put off visitors to the area, including those fascinated by the area’s links with crime writer Agatha Christie, pictured, who lived in Winter-brook and is buried at St Mary’s in Cholsey.