RESIDENTS fighting quarry plans near Barford fear it could remain on their doorstep for some 40 years.
Warwickshire County Council is proposing to open a sand and gravel quarry at Wasperton Farm.
Residents have been campaigning for more than six years against the plans which are included in WCC’s Mineral Plan, which identifies areas of the county where significant mineral resources can be found.
Campaigners have long argued there could be severe health consequences – particularly for children and elderly residents – if the 220 acre site becomes a quarry.
But they now claim new evidence suggests they could suffer for 40 years or more if Smiths Concrete is given the green-light to operate a quarry on the land, which is owned by St John’s College in Oxford.
Dr Malcolm Eykyn, a member of the action group Barford Residents Association, said they had found new evidence.
He explained: “We can see in their options agreement that this project could take as long as 40 years, not the 15 years cited in the planning application, as it shows that once the sand and gravel had been removed, Smiths Concrete could – subject to planning – have the option to recycle aggregates from other sites, making Barford an industrial production base for up to 40 years.
“Smiths Concrete opened a quarry in Bubbenhall, near Leamington, for sand and gravel extraction in 1979 – and were recently granted an extension to continue recycling aggregate until 2024, so at least 45 years so far.
“We have only discovered this now because the copy of the agreement we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act was heavily redacted. However, we have sourced an unredacted copy, available in the public domain, and it’s clear that vital information for the planning committee was hidden.”
But Ray Chambers, Smiths general manager, said claims over 40 year operation plans at Wasperton Fields and comparisons with other Smiths Concrete sites were wrong.
Mr Chambers said: “While the details of our arrangement with St John’s College remain private, they reflect standard arrangements in our sector. Smiths’ business plans are based on sand and gravel extraction and full restoration at Wasperton Fields over a 12 to 15 year period, and our planning application to WCC reflects this.”
He explained the Bubbenhall site had served the Warwickshire and Coventry construction markets for many years and ongoing local demand for material had meant operations at the site had been extended to include new extraction areas.
He added the firm had recently had a planning permission extended to complete restoration works of land which it owned.
Mr Chambers also said claims about health hazards ignored up-to-date evidence, adding the potential air quality and dust hazards from quarries were well known and understood and were addressed by stringent regulatory controls set to protect health.