Campaigners believe they are one step closer to victory in their fight against plans for a large quarry near Barford

Villagers are worried about fine particulate dust - as well as the damage to the landscape

The Barford residents' ‘Stop the Quarry Campaign’ - this picture was taken before the pandemic and regulations about social distancing.
The Barford residents' ‘Stop the Quarry Campaign’ - this picture was taken before the pandemic and regulations about social distancing.

Campaigners in Barford believe they are one step closer to victory in their fight against plans for a large sand and gravel quarry on the edge of the village.

Warwickshire County Council’s Minerals Plan was scrutinised by the Government-appointed inspector at a virtual Inspection Hearing on October 20 and 21.

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And now the inspector has requested that changes be made before the plan goes out for a six-week public consultation. After that the inspector will make his final judgment.

The Barford residents' ‘Stop the Quarry Campaign’ feel this process will probably take up to 12 months to conclude. If the Barford site remains in the revised plan, then residents will have another opportunity to voice their concern to Warwickshire County Council at the next consultation.

Malcolm Eykyn and Andrew Steel, both committee members of the campaign, said: “We have worked tirelessly for the last five years raising awareness about the proposed quarry threat as well as raising substantial funds to help fight our cause.

"We felt the inspector listened to our concerns and we feel we have more chance of succeeding now than when the campaign started four years ago."

Oxford University’s college St. John’s owns the land near Barford and Wasperton that is earmarked for development. The college has requested that Warwickshire County Council include it in its minerals land allocation plan which will allow a developer to extract sand and gravel from this 220-acre site which borders Barford.

"Professor Snowling (from the college) has it in her gift to withdraw permission to mine the site and stop the quarry in its tracks," added Mr Eykyn and Mr Steel.

"Letters have been written by residents, pupils at the local school and more recently by the school governors to Professor Snowling, but she has refused to meet us at every step of the way”.

The protesters said the inspector subjected the council mineral planners to 'nothing short of an intense grilling, exposing a multitude of flaws in the major components of the plan, either through lack of evidence or unsound evidence'.

A spokesperson added: "He was particularly critical of the reasons why the council had chosen some of the new sites without giving due consideration to ‘community concerns’ and the overall local ‘need’ for ‘fresh sand and gravel’.

"Local MP Matt Western has given valuable support to the campaign, not only at the inspection and in his presentations in Parliament, but also by writing a letter to the president of St. John’s College Oxford, Professor Maggie Snowling.

"It is the publicly stated ethos of the college to adopt policies that support environmental protection and reduce the carbon footprint. The quarry will conflict directly with both those stated aims.

The campaigers suggest that the quarry could expose villagers to fine particulate dust - and permanently destroy the existing agricultural land, destroy ancient hedgerows, and scar the landscape.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire County Council said: "The preparation of the Minerals Local Plan is continuing, and the county council is conscious that all our communities want to see a resolution and the final plan adopted.

"The examination in public, in October 2020, followed a standard approach and the subsequent need to agree main modifications with the Inspector for further public consultation afterwards is common in such processes.

"The council is grateful to the inspector and other participants for supporting the examination in its virtual form, which prevented delays to the process and allowed all voices to be heard.

"The timescale for our next steps is affected by purdah - the period in the run up to an election where council consultations are strictly limited - which starts on 19th March 2021 and runs until 6th May 2021. Accordingly, once the draft main modifications are agreed with the Inspector, public consultation will take place in the summer 2021

"Information on the next stages will be publicised on the Council’s website as dates are confirmed, at https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/mdf."