Quarry protesters take fight to Warwickshire County Council’s HQ

The villagers outside the council's headquarters
The villagers outside the council's headquarters

Villagers opposed to a massive extraction of sand and gravel near Rugby have taken their fight direct to Warwickshire County 
Council headquarters.

A delegation representing residents and Bourton and Draycote parish council handed over to Shire Hall planners a petition with 240 signatures, more than 200 letters of protest and a 32-page detailed rebuttal of the county’s Minerals Plan Preferred Option and Policies document published at the end of October.

With the support of people living in nearby Frankton, the parish council and residents have been working on a campaign to have the 110-hectare Bourton site, identified as the number one option for sand and gravel development by the county for 2017-2032, removed from the list of nine favoured sites.

Only a few hundred yards from many of their homes, the designated area - nearly half the size of the nearby Draycote Water reservoir and roughly equivalent to 110 international-size rugby pitches - straddles the B4453 ‘straight mile’ to the south of the A45.

Public meetings have been held and a campaign action group adopted the slogan ‘Kill the quarry, not our villages’ as its theme. This has appeared on banners, posters and leaflets. Donations to a campaign fighting fund were still coming in.

As well as setting up a website and presence on Facebook, the action group has canvassed support from neighbouring communities and parish councils.

The parish council submission was drafted with the assistance of an independent minerals planning consultant and an independent geologist. It challenges many of the assumptions and processes presented in the Minerals Plan by the county and its advisers, Atkins.

Its main area of concern is what is said to be a hugely increased risk of flooding, and campaigners believe the local environment and ecology would be dealt a catastrophic blow. Particularly at risk of flooding is the hamlet of Draycote which lies 38 metres below the extraction site, said campaigners.

Leading the delegation to Shire Hall was Cllr Barbara Walker, chairwoman of Bourton and Draycote parish council. She said: “There has been an overwhelming response from our communities to the campaign to have the Bourton site removed from the Minerals Plan. We believe the plan is flawed and has not properly assessed the risk of flooding, both locally and downstream in Birdingbury, Marton and Eathorpe.

“Also, the hugely damaging and harmful consequences to the environment from pollution, dust and noise have not been properly evaluated. As the draft plan stands, these will continue for at least 25 years, blighting our health, our villages and rural way of life.”

On Saturday village representatives took their case to Jeremy Wright, MP for Kenilworth and Southam, whose constituency covers the area. Mr Wright, who some years ago was involved in the ‘Stop the Airport’ campaign near Rugby, is the Attorney General.

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