PROTESTERS from a Warwickshire village demonstrated outside Oxford University's St John’s College yesterday, over plans to open a large quarry.

Residents of Barford, near Warwick, are angry that St John’s – one of Oxford's wealthiest colleges – has agreed that farmland that it owns could be used as a sand and gravel quarry, despite widespread health concerns.

The villagers say the college 'is putting short term profit ahead of environmental and food sustainability, and risking the health of local children' at the site in nearby Wasperton.

Oxford Mail:

Speaking ahead of a protest of around 60 people yesterday, Oxford University alumna Charlotte Morgan, who has lived in Barford for more than ten years, explained: "The College’s own website proudly claims that they do all they can to reduce their impact on the environment, and have even won awards from Oxford University for doing so. Yet if this quarry goes ahead, the local ecosystem will be destroyed."

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The mum-of-two children from the local primary school continued: "There will be increased risk of flooding (and) polluting the nearby River Avon. 220 acres of the highest grade agricultural land will (also) disappear.

"I’m really concerned about my children’s health suffering as a result of 700 diesel lorries travelling to and from the quarry each week, as well as the dust from the quarry.”

Oxford Mail:

Residents claim there are other possible sites in more rural areas and existing sites that could be extended.

Local GP Dr Malcolm Eykyn said dust clouds posed a 'real danger' to health.

The campaigner explained: “Dust from the quarry will contain silica, which can be extremely harmful to children, the elderly and those with chest conditions. In the USA and Canada there is legislation governing how near such a quarry can be to residential areas... distances far larger than this quarry will be from the village.

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“I am especially concerned for the hundreds of children who live nearby, particularly those who attend the nearby primary school and nursery. Over the time of the working of the quarry thousands of children will be affected."

He added that it was 'odd' that local government might 'tear up prime agricultural farmland on which vegetables are being grown' at a time when sustainability is being heralded. Dr Eykyn also suggested there is a 'dramatic decline' in demand for sand and gravel.

Oxford Mail:

St John's said Warwickshire County Council had informed it that home building meant it required sand and gravel - and the site was being considered for its 'Minerals Plan', which would not be adopted until Spring 2020.

The College claims it has a 'social responsibility' to both locals and the council's attempts to build more homes, but suggests that health and environment concerns should be dealt with by the council.

College Bursar Andrew Parker added: "The College wishes to assure those people who have taken the time to write, that all the letters have been read by the relevant people in the College and their points fully considered."