A VILLAGE in Warwickshire is taking on one of Oxford’s largest and wealthiest colleges as it seeks to open a huge quarry.

Campaigners in Barford say a proposed 220-acre quarry similar in size to the village will expose them to ‘toxic fine particulate silica dust’ which could cause ‘permanent damage’ to their lungs.

Villagers are also concerned the quarry, roughly the size of 110 football pitches, will ‘destroy high-quality agricultural land and scar the landscape’.

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The land is owned by St John’s College, and for the last six years, people in Barford have campaigned against Warwickshire County Council’s Minerals Plan, which could see the sand and gravel quarry open on the edge of the village.

Malcolm Eykyn, one of the committee members against the quarry, said: “We cannot lie down after six years of vigorous campaigning and let this quarry damage our lives.

“Our fight continues and while we still await the inspector’s verdict on the last consultation of the Warwickshire County Council Minerals Plan, we are continuing to try and persuade the hierarchy of St John’s College to meet with us.

“We can then explain that their very own published ethos of wanting to be environmentally sustainable contradicts their intention to open this quarry so close to our community.”

thisisoxfordshire: Villagers protest against the quarry plans last monthVillagers protest against the quarry plans last month

Zoe Hancock, principal bursar at St John’s, said environmental matters would be addressed during the planning application process.

She said: “The college has entered into a contract with Smiths Concrete Limited to take forward the planning application for potential mineral extraction at land near Barford.

“Warwickshire County Council has stated the site’s potential to provide minerals to meet local building needs as part of its Minerals Plan.

“All site-related matters, such as environmental and traffic questions, are being addressed fully during the planning application process.

“The college will not allow any activity on its land that does not comply with the local authority’s plan, and environmental and safety regulations, and requires the land to be returned to good order at the end of the process, should the site be included in the council’s local minerals plan.

“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, is critical to ensure environmental harm is minimised whilst supporting local economic growth and infrastructure needs.”

thisisoxfordshire: St John’s College. Picture: Google MapsSt John’s College. Picture: Google Maps

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson added: “The Warwickshire Minerals Plan is currently at the final stages of its examination in public.

“The planning inspector is now preparing his final report following the examination hearings and plan modifications consultation.

“The issues raised about the proposed allocation of a sand and gravel site at Barford in the plan have been discussed in detail throughout its preparation and at the examination hearings.

“It is anticipated that, subject to the final modified plan being found sound, the county council would look to adopt the plan in the summer. 

“Any planning application submitted to develop the site at Barford will be dealt with in accordance with the council’s existing planning procedures.

“The public will have a further opportunity to comment on the detailed proposals if, and when, they are submitted.”

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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.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice