THE BATTLE against plans for a large gravel quarry near Barford is finally looking up say residents.
For the last five years Barford residents have been campaigning against Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) plans to open a large sand and gravel quarry on land at Wasperton owned by St John’s College in Oxford.
Campaigners fear there could be severe health consequences – particularly for the village’s children and its elderly residents – if the 220 acre Wasperton site becomes a quarry, as well as the destruction of agricultural land and ancient hedgerows.
They also say lorries transporting minerals will cause dirt, noise, vibration, safety concerns and traffic congestion.
After six years of delays and revisions, the council’s Minerals Plan was scrutinised by the government appointed Inspector at a virtual hearing last month.
Over two days, the inspector questioned planners over the proposal including the consideration given to the community’s concerns over certain sites, and the overall local need for fresh sand and gravel.
As a result the inspector requested the planners amend areas of the proposal, and demanded those changes be approved by him before the revised version goes out for a six week public consultation. After that the inspector will make his final judgment.
If the Barford site remains in the revised plan residents will have another opportunity to voice their concern to WCC at the next consultation.
Campaigners say the inspection has given them more chance to get the plan overturned – something they have been urging St John’s College president, Professor Maggie Snowling to do.
Campaign committee members Malcolm Eykyn and Andrew Steel 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 feel we have more chance of succeeding now than when the campaign started four years ago.
“Professor Snowling has it in her gift to withdraw permission to mine the site and stop the quarry in its tracks. 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.”
But Warwickshire County Council says the need to agree modifications with the inspector is the ‘standard approach.
A spokesman 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, 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.”
He added purdah – the period in the run up to an election – would affect the timescale and a consultation following the draft modifications would take place in summer.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/mdf for updates.
St John’s College has not responded to a request for comment.