Council branded 'disappointing and disrespectful' after 'snubbing' Barford school children handing over letters against quarry plans
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Warwickshire County Council has been branded 'disappointing and disrespectful' after ‘snubbing’ Barford school children who were handing over letters against plans for a quarry near their school.
On Wednesday February 15, around 40 pupils from Barford St Peter’s School went to Shire Hall in Warwick to express their concerns regarding the proposed quarry at Wasperton Farm.
In January, Warwickshire County Council (WCC) formally accepted that Smiths Concrete’s proposals for the Wasperton Fields site are suitable for consideration in due course, which opened up the application for comments.
Outside Shire Hall, the pupils were met and supported by Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, Cllr Jan Matecki and Cllr Alan Rhead.
The pupils stood on the steps and chanted “stop the quarry” and then some of the Year 6 children individually went into Shire Hall to hand their objection letters in to the planning officer.
One of the campaigners who joined the effort said that no one from the council would come out and address the children as a group, despite the pupils wishing to express their concerns directly to the council – and giving the council a week’s notice of their arrival.
One of the letters from a pupil said: “The noise coming out of the digging will be heard from my school and SAT’s are coming up and it will be extremely distracting for us to work for not just my class but every pupil of Barford St Peter's school. So we beg you not to go with plan of starting this digging.
"The noise coming out of the digs will disturb the residents of our village from children to elderly.”
Another said: “Problem with the quarry is how close it is to my house and school and we will be able to hear it at home, on the playground and field, during school and at the park.
"My classmates feel very strongly against the quarry and may even have to move out of our houses because of all the risks like pollution from silica dust and other things.”
On his Facebook page, MP Matt Western called the council ‘disappointing and disrespectful’ for not having a representative come and meet the pupils handing in the letters despite giving prior notice.
He said: “It was powerful to see such a large number of local school children turn out today outside Warwickshire County Council to voice their opposition to the proposed quarry at Barford.
"These children would be some of those worst affected by the quarry as their primary school sits just 650m away from the site.
"The letters they handed in at the council clearly showed their strength of feeling about these plans.
"However, it was hugely disappointing and disrespectful that a representative from the County Council could not make themselves available to receive the letters directly from the children despite being given a week’s notice of the event.
"I will continue to campaign alongside the residents of Barford to ensure this quarry is not allowed to go ahead and risk the health of locals.”
Responding to the comments, a spokesperson for Warwickshire County Council said: "As a result of the large volume of comments we are receiving, and to ensure that we can analyse them thoroughly, the public consultation period for the Wasperton Quarry has been extended to February 28.
"We have received responses from some statutory consultees, although not all have yet been submitted.
"To date, we have received over 1,700 comments.
"The planning application submission and the comments received will take some time to analyse and process. Whilst the consultation is ongoing, we are unable to comment any further on the responses we have received."
On February 15, the same day as the demonstration by the school children, Warwickshire County Council also held a consultation on the proposals inside Shire Hall.
Responding to some of the comments made at the event, Ray Chambers, general manager of Smiths Concrete, said: “Ahead of submitting proposals for a much-needed sand and gravel quarry at Wasperton Farm, we carried out extensive engagement with the local community – setting out what we’ll do mitigate the impact of our operations and how we’ll protect the environment and enhance biodiversity.
“We’ve continually highlighted that sand and gravel quarries have minimal impact on air quality, explaining the difference between the potential occupational risks of quarry related dust (which are well-managed) and the near non-existent environmental risks to the community.
"The HSE’s website also states that “no cases of silicosis have been documented among members of the general public” which should provide further reassurance.
"Plus, silicates form 95 per cent of the minerals in the earth’s crust and are found all around the home, in the garden and at the beach.
“We’ll keep informing the community of the facts and hope that the parish council and local MP will take up our previous offers to meet, so we can answer their questions.”
Campaigners have been fighting the plans for a quarry on the site for around seven years and have heled many protests over that time.
MP Matt Western has also supported the campaigners over the last couple of years.
Smiths have also arranged for a hard copy of the plans to be available to view in Barford Village shop.