Plans for a quarry in South Warwickshire far from "a done deal" say campaigners - The Leamington Observer

Plans for a quarry in South Warwickshire far from "a done deal" say campaigners

Leamington Editorial 8th Dec, 2022   0

PLANS to build a contentious quarry near Barford are far from “a done deal”.

That was the message from councillors at a recent full meeting of Warwick District Council – which has only caused residents fighting the proposal to further harden their resolve.

Smith’s Concrete and land owners St John’s College plan to open a 220-acre quarry just 350 yards from the village.

But campaign group The Sand and Gravel Committee have long argued there could be severe health consequences – particularly for children and elderly residents – if the site becomes a quarry, as well as the destruction of agricultural land and ancient hedgerows.

But despite Smith’s Concrete recently putting in its planning application, there is mounting activity behind the scenes to do everything possible to stop the quarry, according to the group set up to oppose it.

The consultation process will not start until early January and residents will have three weeks after that to lodge their objections.

While the Warwickshire County Council Minerals Planning Committee may not sit to rule on this application from Smith’s Concrete for many months until the determination date is reached. This is dictated by the time it takes for the WCC planning department to receive all the statutory specialist reports from identified consultees.

At the WDC meeting, four members of the committee against the quarry spoke up to address their grave concerns.

Coun Chris King said: “This is not a done deal. The power behind this now lies with St John’s College Oxford. The reasons why it shouldn’t go ahead are very clear and I hope all the members here will do all they can to reinforce the fact, the knowledge, and the feeling that I hope we all feel that this quarry should not go ahead,”

Councillors unanimously approved a notice of motion proposed by Coun Alan Rhead, the portfolio holder for climate change. This called on WCC and prospective site developers to involve the district council in pre-application discussions so that it could ensure potential impacts were mitigated to protect residents if the planning application was granted.

Meanwhile the committee has been distributing flyers to the surrounding villages referencing Smith’s Concrete, St John’s College, Hansons and Heidelberg Cement Group as four naughty elves.

Smith’s Concrete is owned by Heidelberg Cement Group, which is the largest manufacturer of concrete globally.

Last month around 100 Barford residents – along with Matt Western, the MP for Warwick and Leamington – protested outside St John’s College in Oxford. The protesters handed out leaflets which highlighted their concern that not only will St Johns College risk damaging residents’ health but also damaging their own glowing global reputation as a world leading centre of excellence in education and research by directly contradicting their own ethos of preaching “Environmental Sustainability”.

St John’s College principal bursar Zoe Hancock, Principal Bursar, said the college would not allow any activity on its land that did not comply with the local authority’s plan and environmental and safety regulations.

She added: “We will require the land to be returned to good order at the end of the process. The provision of minerals, which are required for local housebuilding and infrastructure from the most sustainable local sites, as identified by the council and scrutinised by a planning inspector, are critical to ensure environmental harm is minimised whilst supporting local economic growth and infrastructure needs.”

has long stated it had a legal duty to produce a plan and allocate sand and gravel sites for future quarrying, and that difficult decisions had to be made.

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