You may have noticed some recent media coverage (BBC South East and Dover Express) where Dover MP Charlie Elphicke claimed CPRE Kent was against all development and was wrong to challenge the decision to grant planning permission for more than 600 homes on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe (which he mistakenly claimed was brownfield land). Here CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury sets the record straight and explains why this campaign is so important for Kent:
We are absolutely not against development in Dover. Our planning expert, Brian Lloyd, spent a huge amount of time working on the Dover Local plan to help make it a good plan. We want Dover to be successful as much as anyone. We also want the Western Heights to be conserved and restored: they are just as important as Dover Castle and both are incredibly important parts of our national heritage.
What we have to challenge is when the wrong things are being proposed. The Farthingloe site was specifically rejected as an unsuitable site in the local plan process, and the statutory agencies Natural England and the AONB unit, as well as non-statutory bodies, the National Trust and ourselves, thought likewise. But it has fallen to CPRE to take the fight on. It is a pity Charlie Elphicke takes a challenge against one thing that is wrong as a challenge to everything. He is incorrect about it being a brownfield site. A key principle of all good construction projects is that civil engineers make as light an impact as possible on the ground they only need temporarily, and restore it afterwards. That was the commitment at Farthingloe, as it was at many other sites along the subsequent Channel Tunnel Rail Link construction line through Kent. There will always be those who try to claim brownfield status. It is unfortunate and misleading that Charlie has taken up this line .
On the lorry park, that was a necessary campaigning phase in Dover Port taking greater responsibility for the wider impacts across Kent of the huge volumes of lorry traffic passing through Dover: Their latest plans do make more provision for trucks needing to park up, though this will no doubt be an ongoing issue.
We do acknowledge progress and we continue to work hard to get the right things to happen. But we will continue to challenge when we see the wrong planning decisions being made. We will see in December whether the courts agree. We did not take this action lightly but if CPRE does not take a stand to save our countryside who will?
Dover is a really important part of Kent – we will continue to campaign to look after it as we try to do for all of Kent. We have fantastic countryside and a great county which we need to protect for future generations.
November 17th 2015