Bucks Cross group Say No To Route 39 oppose North Devon's first free school Route 39 Academy.
RESIDENTS living near the proposed site of North Devon's first free school have set up an opposition group.
Residents in Bucks Cross and Bucks Mills have formed the group, called Say No to Route 39.
The school, called Route 39, was given the go-ahead last year by the Department for Education. It is due to open in September with a Year 7 and Year 8 intake of pupils.
Last month the trust which is setting up the school announced the permanent school site will be at Steart Farm in Bucks Cross. It is currently run as a campsite during the summer season.
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While the school is being built there will be a temporary site at The Milky Way, a family attraction off the A39.
But now that the school is taking shape, concerns are growing about the effect it will have on the surrounding area.
There are also concerns about its impact on the area's existing secondary schools.
David Fitzsimmons, the principal of Holsworthy Community College, said the new school means redundancies are being considered.
He said his school will have less funding as a direct result of fewer pupils. He said the school had expected to have 130 children arriving for Year 7 in September 2013.
That number would warrant five classes.
He said: "However, eight of the proposed 130 appear to be going to the free school in September, leaving us with 122 pupils.
"The 122 pupils do not justify five teaching groups economically, although of course they do educationally. So I am faced with the dilemma of disadvantaging the new Year 7 by having larger groups or keeping five groups and paying for this by reducing provision higher up the school.
"Irrespective of how the problem is solved, a teacher is likely to lose their job."
People behind the new opposition group feel they have not had enough consultation over the school's location and say the chosen site is unsuitable.
Kathy Lambert, who is part of the group, said the school site will be in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which is not designed to house a school for 700 pupils.
She added: "Why don't they stay at the Milky Way?
"The Atlantic Highway is already very dangerous and the extra traffic this school will create will mean more accidents. This is a vulnerable area and the school will devastate it."
But governors of the school have defended the reasons behind setting up Route 39.
Richard Bence, who chairs the governors said: "The Route 39 Academy proposal was put together with the support and endorsement of Devon Local Authority.
"They were actively looking for additional secondary provision in this area.
"The LA has projected a population increase in and around Bideford.
"It is important to get the school in place now to cater for this, not after we have the population problem. The school will grow with this predicted increase in population and will not be open for all years for another five years."
The governors confirmed they are now hoping to have 75 Year 7 and 25 Year 8 pupils.
On Friday they had 58 pupils signed up to start in September.
Mr Bence added: "Steart Farm has always been our preferred option, and we feel it has huge potential as a school site.
"We look forward to working with architects, the community, and stakeholders such as the AONB and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to design a world-class educational and community resource.
"The farm is situated just outside the village centre, directly on the A39.
"There are a number of school buses currently running past this site, taking children to other schools in the area."