VILLAGERS have stepped up their fight to stop a proposed quarry development on land owned by an Oxford University college.

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 claim 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.

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Residents say the quarry would be about 300 metres from homes in Barford and are urging villagers across South Warwickshire to help fight the plans by donating money towards the cause.

Oxford Mail:

Campaigners say toxic silica dust from quarries is a recognised health risk, which could especially harm children at the local school and elderly residents.

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The protesters say St John’s has requested that Warwickshire County Council include it in their minerals land allocation plan, which will allow a developer to extract vast quantities of sand and gravel from the 220-acre site which borders Barford.

Oxford Mail:

Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, recently delivered a petition to parliament to urge the government to scrap the council`s quarry plans.

Mr Western said “I have constantly used every opportunity possible to stand up for the residents of Barford against this proposed quarry. I’ve brought a debate to Parliament, written to Ministers, and delivered petitions.

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"I’ll continue to lobby against the plans because it is simply no good for the health of Barford residents.”

Oxford Mail:

If the quarry goes ahead it will see 60 lorries a day (120 lorry movements) exiting the site and heading onto the A429 for over 15 years, transporting minerals along the A429 and to the Longbridge roundabout.

The final decision on whether this site is included is now with the Planning Inspectorate, with a hearing in early June and a decision later in the year.

Oxford Mail:

In many countries, sand and gravel extraction is banned close to people’s homes but no such law exists in the UK. Earlier in the process over 800 residents submitted their significant objections to the county and hope these will be taken into consideration during the forthcoming inspection.

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Villagers are in the process of raising money to provide professional advice on the lead up to the inspection.

A spokesman for St John's College said: "Should the site be allocated, then it will be subject to a planning application.

"We will be seeking full assurances through the planning and public consultation process that all those concerns raised by residents, and indeed anyone else, are fully considered.”