CONTROVERSIAL plans by one of Oxford’s largest and wealthiest colleges to open a huge quarry have taken a step forward, despite widespread backlash from a neighbouring village.

For more than six years, people in Barford, Warwickshire, have been taking on St John’s College as it seeks to create a 220-acre quarry similar in size to the village.

Campaigners told the Oxford Mail the quarry will expose them to ‘toxic fine particulate silica dust’ which could cause ‘permanent damage’ to their lungs.

The quarry, roughly the size of 110 football pitches, is part of Warwickshire County Council’s Minerals Local Plan 2018-2032.

READ AGAIN: Village in six-year quarry battle with one of Oxford’s richest colleges

The plan was adopted by the local authority, with 35 councillors voting for, 10 against and two abstaining.

With the plan approved, the Barford site could see a sand and gravel quarry open on the edge of the village.

Jonathan Chilvers, leader of the Green group at Warwickshire County Council, said at the council meeting: “We know that this country needs to produce significant amounts of sand and gravel, to produce cement, because we all know that we need houses and infrastructure, and at the moment, there is no substitute for cement so we need to be realistic about the amount of sand and gravel this country needs to extract.

“Extracting sand and gravel has downsides – it has impacts on our countryside, wildlife, air pollution, river pollution and noise.”

Fellow Green councillor Will Roberts added: “We cannot ignore the environmental impacts of putting a quarry so close to villages.”

Oxford Mail: Villagers protest against the quarry plans in MayVillagers protest against the quarry plans in May

Conservative councillor Jan Matecki was also critical of the Minerals Plan, saying: “The consultations were based on facts at the time, but things have moved forward so the position today is different.

“I accept there is an opportunity at the planning stage to object to this but if it’s in the Minerals Plan, then it’s going to be a very difficult position to argue against.

“I’ve got a lot of issues with the plan because it’s out of date.”

Oxford Mail: St John’s College. Picture: Google MapsSt John’s College. Picture: Google Maps

Wallace Redford, the council’s portfolio holder for transport and planning, said: “All residents and stakeholders have had the opportunity to comment through a number of stages of consultation since 2015.

“There is a period where residents and stakeholders can make a further challenge within six weeks of the plan being adopted.

“The basic facts are, we are required to do this plan.

“We have gone through an extraordinarily long consultation.

“Everybody has had the opportunity to put forward their comments and objections to the plan.”

Tory councillor Jo Barker added: “There’s been so much consultation already, it’s been consulted to death.

“There is a balance between having to build and our duty to have sand and gravel supplies, not just for us but for national infrastructure.”

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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