Campaigners given hope in their fight against quarry near Barford

At this week’s full council meeting of Warwick District Council, those opposed to the potential new quarry, which would be close to a school and houses, were told that talks were ongoing with the landowner, and St John’s College Oxford and that ‘the power behind it now lies with’ the college

Barford villagers at St John's College in Oxford protesting against the college's plans to use land near the village as a quarry. Picture supplied.
Barford villagers at St John's College in Oxford protesting against the college's plans to use land near the village as a quarry. Picture supplied.

Campaigners against the creation of Wasperton Quarry, near Barford, were given fresh hope this week when they were told that it was not a ‘done deal’ that sand and gravel would be extracted from the area.

Warwickshire County Council included the site at Wasperton Farm in their Local Minerals Plan earlier this year - the county-wide strategy for supplying the minerals the county and others need over the next ten years.

But at this week’s full council meeting of Warwick District Council, those opposed to the potential new quarry, which would be close to a school and houses, were told that talks were ongoing with the landowner, and Oxford college.

Cllr Chris King (Lab, Leamington, Clarendon) 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 would like to state that 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.

“Our MP [Matt Western] has visited the master of the college and has told me that this is not a done deal by any means, that discussion continues and if anyone here would care to join him and go down to Oxford and make a protest that would probably be very valuable.

"Students would see that, the media would see that and it might tip the balance.”

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During the meeting, councillors approved a notice of motion proposed by the portfolio holder for climate change, Cllr Alan Rhead (Con, Budbrooke). This called on the county council and prospective site developers to involve the district council in pre-application discussions at the earliest opportunity so that it could ensure potential impacts were properly mitigated to protect local residents.

The meeting also heard from four members of the public who also flagged up their safety concerns should quarrying be allowed at the site.

Cllr Bill Gifford (Lib Dem, Leamington Milverton) said: “It is unfortunate that St John’s College, who don’t need the money, should feel the need to push this forward. They are the one body who could actually stop it now. They could decide not to use their land for anything other than agriculture.

“Sadly they seem to be treating themselves as a business rather than an academic research institution.

"The students actually voted against this going ahead as I understand it and I would hope that those with more responsibility will look clearly at the actual evidence before them as they could stop it straight away.”

Earlier this month, a group of about 100 villagers and Mr Western took their protest to the steps of St John’s College.