The Wokingham Paper

Shinfield and Arborfield protesters gather for meeting against Bridge Farm quarry plan

Shinfield & Arborfield residents quarry
Members of the campaigning group Shinfield & Arborfield Residents Against Quarry & Concrete Plant outside the Arborfield branch of the Royal British Legion on Tuesday evening Picture: Tony Johnson

Opposition towards the proposed quarry between Shinfield and Arborfield is building, as approximately 300 locals attended a community meeting to discuss it on Tuesday night.

Not one was in favour of the Bridge Farm Quarry plans going ahead.

Organised by the campaign group Shinfield and Arborfield Residents Against Quarry and Concrete Plant – known as RAGE – residents, experts and councillors used the meeting to debate how they could stop building materials company Cemex’s proposal progressing.

Cemex is currently waiting to hear back from Wokingham Borough Council about its planning application.

Lead campaigner Andy Hallett said: “We were amazed by the turnout – it far exceeded our expectations.”

He added: “The purpose of this was to get people to be aware, share their objections or feelings and have their voice heard. So we achieved our objection.

“This is far beyond nimbyism. It is an absurd application. Anger was probably the predominant emotion [last night] – and fear. If this happens, what will the quality of life be like in Shinfield and Arborfield?”

Mr Hallett said many attendees raised the potential health concerns associated with the quarry.

Parents even voiced fears that if they send their children to the neighbouring school, St Mary’s, they could be killing them. 

Shinfield Arborfield quarry
Residents supporting the campaigning group Shinfield & Arborfield Residents Against Quarry & Concrete Plant at a meeting held in the Arborfield branch of the Royal British Legion on Tuesday evening Picture: Tony Johnson

Going forward, the campaign group plans to continue raising awareness and building support within the community, as well as finding professional support from experts who understand the intricacies and flaws of Cemex’s application. 

The campaigners also intend to be at the council’s planning meeting on Wednesday, September 11.

Wokingham Borough Council leader Cllr John Halsall apologised to the protestors for missing the meeting on Tuesday evening and said he is very much opposed to the quarry proposals. 

He said: “The consideration of Bridge Farm for mineral extraction goes back at least to the South East Plan and has been within the scope of the Waste and Minerals Plan update for some 20 years.

“What has changed in the intervening years is that the population has increased through substantial development making the case for the development even weaker than it was in the past.

“I am well known for campaigning to protect the countryside. My environmental credentials are well-known. It is no accident that my first action was to declare a climate emergency. The proposal is entirely contrary to that stream of thought.

“I am very much against this proposal for a huge range of very valid reasons – principally being harm to the residents and the environment, creating congestion and scarring the landscape.

“Cllr John Kaiser said at the RAGE meeting that Wokingham Borough Council Executive is united in its opposition.”

Follow the Facebook group S-O-S Save Our Villages for updates, or look at the council’s planning portal for more information. 

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