TIME is almost up for villagers protesting about a proposed quarry being built on ‘high-quality’ farmland as today a Government inspector will hear both sides of the argument.

Residents of Barford, near Warwick, have been protesting about the plan to open a large sand and gravel quarry for five years.

The land is owned by Oxford University’s wealthiest college, St John’s.

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The college, which has assets of over £650 million, has requested that Warwickshire County Council include the site in their minerals land allocation plan

The plan will allow a developer to extract vast quantities of sand and gravel from this 220-acre site which borders Barford.

Those protesting say that the building of the quarry will ‘permanently destroy the existing high-quality agricultural land, destroy ancient hedgerow, that date back to Shakespeare’s time, and scar the landscape’.

They also say it will expose 1,500 villagers and 200 primary and nursery school children fine, toxic particulate dust that could cause permanent damage to their lungs.

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If the quarry goes ahead it will see 60 lorries a day (120 lorry movements) exiting off and trying to pull across and onto the A429 for over 15 years.

Protestors say this will greatly impact on dirt, noise, vibration, safety, and traffic congestion.

A Government Inspector will hear the argument from both sides of the debate at an inspection today.

The debate will be held virtually online due to COVID-19.

As the Inspectors Office can record the number of people watching, the villagers hope as many people as possible will listen to the inspection.

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The inspector will also be considering the merits of the other five proposed sites and then later make the decision.

Protestors are accusing the college of hypocrisy as while their website says ‘St John’s takes every opportunity to reduce its environmental impact’ Barford residents say their actions speak otherwise.

Charlotte Morgan, Oxford University alumna and committee member of Barford residents association said:

“St John’s say sand and gravel is needed for house buildings and the demand, but we are trying to get across that there’s already been a lot of house building around here, so we are not convinced there’s a local demand for sand and gravel.

“There is also the hypocrisy of the college. The college says it does all it can for the environment, but this is a huge site, with top grade of agricultural land, growing four different crops of vegetables a year. If the quarry goes ahead it will never be restored."

Read more here: Barford residents protest against St John's

The local MP for Warwick and Leamington, Matt Western, supports Barford residents campaign.

He said: “For me, the proposed quarry has wide-reaching negative implications for public health and environmental protections. The quarry near Barford and Wasperton is the only site in the minerals plan in such close proximity to a residential area, and it simply isn’t needed.

“The basis for which the site was proposed was predicated on overinflated figures for housing demand.

“I’ve submitted my objections to the County Council’s plan and will be speaking at the hearing, to do all I can to halt this quarry from going ahead.”

It is unknown when the decision will be revealed.