Huge quarry is not 'done deal', say councillors

Huge quarry is not 'done deal', say councillors <i>(Image: Tanya Aspinwall)</i>
Huge quarry is not 'done deal', say councillors (Image: Tanya Aspinwall)

A HUGE quarry being planned by one of Oxford’s wealthiest colleges is being opposed by councillors and villagers.

Campaigners in Barford, in south Warwickshire, said that a proposed 220-acre quarry similar in size to the village will expose them to “toxic fine particulate silica dust”, which could cause “permanent damage” to their lungs.

They are also concerned the quarry, roughly the size of 110 football pitches, will “destroy high-quality agricultural land and scar the landscape”.

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The proposed land at Wasperton Farm is owned by St John’s College, and for the last six years, people in Barford have campaigned against Warwickshire County Council’s Minerals Plan, which could see the sand and gravel quarry open on the edge of the village.

At a full council meeting of Warwick District Council, councillors agreed the quarry was not ‘a done deal’, as four members of the committee against the quarry talked about their concerns.

Cllr Chris King said: “This is not a done deal. The power behind this now lies with St John’s College Oxford.

“The reasons why it shouldn’t go ahead are very clear and I hope all the members here will do all they can to reinforce the fact, the knowledge, and the feeling that I hope we all feel that this quarry should not go ahead”.

Meanwhile, members of the committee have been distributing flyers to the surrounding villages referring to Smith’s Concrete, St John’s College, Hansons and Heidelberg Cement Group as four 'naughty elves.

Smith’s Concrete is owned by Heidelberg Cement Group, which is the largest manufacturer of concrete globally.

Malcolm Eykyn, a member of the committee, said “We expected Smith’s Concrete to put their planning application in before Christmas in the hope people would be distracted by their festive plans.”

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Last month around 100 Barford residents along with Matt Western, the MP for Warwick and Leamington, protested outside St John’s College in Oxford.

They held banners reading ‘save our lungs’ and ‘St John’s College, time for a U turn, not a U bend’. They also handed out leaflets and spoke to students about their concerns.

The group argued that the college is risking damaging villagers’ lives but also their own reputation, by directly contradicting their ethos of “environmental sustainability”.

Mr Western said: “The residents of Barford have been steadfast in their campaign against the proposed quarry in the village.

“I was glad to join them at the protest in Oxford last month and will continue to support them at every turn so that their health is not put at risk.”

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Anna.colivicchi@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @AnnaColivicchi