Some of the best farming land in Warwickshire could be lost after county councillors agreed to include a 70 hectare plot in Wasperton near Barford in a list of six earmarked to provide sand and gravel for building projects over the next 15 years.
Dozens of protestors from in and around the village crammed into a Cabinet meeting of Warwickshire County Council where four of them spoke against the inclusion of the site which is on the main A429 on the outskirts of Warwick.
Resident Chris Harris explained that the type of land that would be dug up at Wasperton Hill Farm was scarce and highly sought after.
“It is protected for a reason - by definition this farmland is scarce,” he said. “Approval of this plan is wilful and conscious destruction of some of the best farming land in Warwickshire.
“The plan says that most of this land can be restored to its existing state, this is patently nonsense and insults the intelligence of the reader. There is nowhere in this country where restoration to existing conditions has been achieved. This land will never be the same again.”
Other protestors complained about the damage that would be done to the ecology and about the risk to those living nearby but the portfolio holder for transport and planning Cllr Jeff Clarke (Con Nuneaton East) said the approval of the plan would just trigger another round of consultations.
He added: “I would urge residents to take part in these. We have a statutory duty to produce a minerals plan and it will ensure that we have adequate gravel and sand to support the growth in construction across the county.
“The sites have been selected to ensure we have a good geographical spread across the county so we don’t have to move lorries up and down.
“Each site will require detailed planning permissions before they are brought forward. The next stage is a six-week pre-submission draft consultation which will take place in September and October. They will then be submitted to the Secretary of State in spring 2019.”
Two sites were taken out of the revised plan - one in Salford Priors and another in Wasperton - when it was decided that the total amount of sand and gravel required was two million tonnes less than first expected. The remaining sites are in Bourton on Dunsmore, Lawford Heath, Shawell Quarry, Ryton, Lea Marston and the one at Wasperton Hill Farm.
The Warwickshire Minerals Plan was approved by Cabinet and also by councillors at the full council meeting two days later.