Radical rethink needed on Thames crossing solution

No-one who has crawled through traffic congestion at the Dartford crossings can doubt that there is a problem that needs fixing, and it needs fixing now. Nor do the residents who suffer from dangerously high levels of air pollution need reminding that this is a situation which has long been intolerable.

Our first thoughts on the location are here. But now that the dust is beginning to settle on the announcement of the likely location of the Thames crossing, there’s an opportunity to reflect on what this means for Kent and beyond.

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

As a solution to the problems suffered at Dartford, the tunnel east of Gravesend performs very poorly indeed. Highways England’s consultation acknowledged that, on opening, the tunnel would draw just 14% of the traffic from Dartford, which is a woefully poor improvement on a situation that is intolerable now and can only become worse in the time it will take a tunnel to be built.

We know from years of observations that building roads to remove congestion is counter-productive; new roads fill with traffic faster than the roads they are supposed to be relieving. CPRE’s report published only last month showed the most comprehensive evidence to date that building new roads is not the solution.

A huge proportion of the goods we trade with mainland Europe and beyond travel through the Channel Port of Dover and the Channel tunnel, and there are ambitious plans to grow traffic through the port of Dover. If the experience of past road building schemes has taught us anything at all, it is that before long Kent’s highways network, even with an additional tunnel across the Thames, will be back at or beyond capacity and we will have endured the environmental and social damage of building and using a tunnel for no long-term solution.

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

Before destroying communities, landscapes and designated sites, we want urgent attention to be given to developing a sustainable transport strategy. Fostering and encouraging the continued growth in traffic through Kent is not good for the country’s economic resilience. The unprecedented events of 2015, leading to over 30 days’ implementation of Operation Stack, should have taught us the lesson that focusing so much of the country’s imports and exports through the already constrained M2/M20 corridors cannot make economic sense.

We urge government to take a radical re-think of the focus on funneling so much traffic on roads through the South East. We need modal shift which will take freight off roads and on to rail, yet the plans for the new Thames crossing are totally silent on the possibility of addition non-road capacity.

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

April 24th 2017

 

 

 

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/lower-thames-crossing-consultation/user_uploads/lower-thames-crossing-consultation-booklet.pdf

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus

New Kent Voice out now!

The spring/summer 2017 issue of Kent Voice is arriving on doormats this week.

cover photo for web

The magazine includes our latest article on the housing crisis – this time looking at the challenges and dilemmas facing a local planning authority. Other articles include the orchid treasures of Kent, a profile of our president, the artist graham Clarke, heritage, and wildlife and farming. Of course the regular campaigns, planning and district updates are also included.

There are some beautiful photos including this cover shot by Bjorn Sothmann and a few more, seen below. Thank you to all our supporters and members who contributed words or photos.

To read Kent Voice click on the magazine cover above or click here.

Elmley National Nature Reserve, Sheppy, Kent.

Cute lamb by Su-May Scords view, for FWAG article

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Housing Minister speech praises CPRE

The Housing Minister Gavin Barwell gave the CPRE annual lecture yesterday (20th) and spoke of the influence CPRE had in the recent Housing White Paper:

“We’ve not only listened to your input, we’ve taken it on board. Any honest assessment of the housing white paper will quickly spot the marks of your influence – whether it’s the protection of the green belt, our opposition to speculative development or our insistence on community involvement in planning and design.”

Gavin barwell Feb 17s216_Gavin_Barwell_Government_Whips-13Jul2015_5242

He added: “I have great respect for the contribution your members have made to public life over many decades in your ceaseless campaign to protect and enhance the English countryside.”

And he said: “The CPRE has played such a distinguished role – and for such a long time – that you suffer from that paradox of success: many people are completely unaware of your profound impact on the English landscape because they simply take it for granted.”

We were heartened to hear him acknowledge our vital role in protecting the countryside.

You can read the whole speech here.

And you can read Matt Thompson’s blog reacting to the Housing White Paper here.

CPRE Kent is working with other branches and CPRE nationally on our full response to the white paper.

February 21st 2017.

 


New year lunch at Leeds Castle

We have had a lovely lunch and visit to Leeds Castle to celebrate the new year (January 11th). Forty members attended. Thank you to our wonderful outings volunteer Margaret Micklewright – this was the 150th trip she has organised for CPRE Kent.

imag2474  imag2471imag2473


Happy New Year from CPRE Kent

Happy new year to our members and supporters. We hope 2017 will be a good year for the countryside but fear there are many challenges ahead with the pressure from ever increasing housing targets and demand and need for infrastructure. We will be campaigning to protect the landscapes we all love.

Chaffinch on a frosty morning by Kentish Plumber

Chaffinch on a frosty morning by Kentish Plumber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile what about making a small change with enormous rewards – choosing local produce. This can offer benefits to your health, your community and your local environment.

Faversham (19)

Faversham farmers' market, photos Vicky Ellis

Faversham farmers’ market, photos Vicky Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether living in towns or the countryside, local food sources are around, and to help you along the way CPRE has created a handy pocket guide with the best reasons to choose local food as well as tips on helping you to find it. Do have a look.

cpre_local_food_guide-1-1

January 3rd 2017


Merry Christmas to all our supporters

CPRE Kent wishes all its supporters and friends a very Merry Christmas. It has been a challenging year with some highs and lows and with the increasing pressure of higher and higher housing targets and demand for infrastructure our work is more important than ever.

Photo: Rachel Kramer

Photo: Rachel Kramer

OCA Photography

OCA Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our victory at the Court of Appeal in getting planning permission  quashed for more than 600 homes on the AONB at Farthingloe was a memorable and far-reaching achievement. Meanwhile plans for huge housing developments on our beautiful countryside look set to go ahead including 4,000 at Mountfield, south Canterbury, and 12,000 at Otterpool Park in Shepway.

Winter scene canterbury, by Randl Hausken

Winter scene Canterbury, by Randl Hausken

Transport infrastructure continues to remain high focus – we await a decision on the Lower Thames crossing, Heathrow has been chosen for expansion and of course the giant Operation Stack lorry park is due to open, possibly as early as next summer.

It was wonderful to celebrate CPRE’s 90th anniversary with our garden party at Hever castle in September. To read more on the historic formation of our charity see here.

We will continue to engage in local plans, major planning applications and other consultations and campaign to protect our wonderful landscapes. We do make a difference and it is thanks to our members, volunteers and supporters that we do.

Merry Christmas from all the staff at Charing – Hilary, Vicky, Susannah, Jillian and Paul.

December 19th

 


Legend of St Eanswythe: Graham Clarke’s poem

Graham Clarke shared his poem on St Eanswythe at our 2016 AGM.

St Eanswythe was the granddaughter of Saxon King Ethelbert of Kent. She built the first nunnery
in England at Folkestone. While the building work was in progress one of the carpenters cut too much off one of the main beams. The legend is that she lengthened the beam by the power of prayer alone. The little church in Brenzett on the Romney Marsh is dedicated to her. She is a Kentish heroine for us all.

st-eanswythe-2 st-eanswythe

On Beam Ends in Folkestone 

Her grandad was King Ethelbert, King Ethelbert of Kent
Young Eanswythe down to Folkestone town with building plans was sent
The nunnery that had been planned would be the first in the land
“A holy place is what we need, so make this job your mission
Don’t worry what the council says you’ve got my permission
Saxon craftsmen on this job when about your task
Follow plans most carefully, that is all I ask.”

So the building work began following the holy plan
Till one boy cut a beam too short and by the foreman he was caught
“I told you cut it ten foot four, you’ve cut off fourteen inches more!
You’re really the most useless bloke, that beam was very pricey oak
Don’t try to blame it on the saw, and don’t tell me your eyesight’s poor.”

This now reached our Good Lady’s ear, she told the poor lad “Do not fear.”
“Go and have a cup of tea, leave the sorting out to me.”

While men went off to get their teas, Eanswythe got down on her knees
No-one knows what happened quite on that blessed building site
For whan they came back through the door, the beam had grown to ten foot four
Proper length, perfect fit, the beam had grown the missing bit

“Good Lord we can’t see how that’s done, she’s done a miracle our nun.”
“Saints alive,” the workmen said, the foreman stared and scratched his head
So carpenters when cutting planks, to Eanswythe offer humble thanks
Then should you make a slight mistake pray Eanswythe might her mercy take
But not if you use saws electric. And by the way she don’t do metric.

© Graham Clarke 2016

For more on the AGM and a link to the minutes click here.

November 21st 2016

 


Autumn/Winter Kent Voice out now

The new edition of Kent Voice is packed with articles and updates on our campaigns, including our recent victory at the Court of Appeal with the quashing of planning permission for 600 homes in the AONB at Farthingloe.

cover-jpeg-for-website

There are lots of interesting articles ranging from the difficulties in getting rural affordable homes built, keeping garden chickens, light pollution and the heritage of hops and orchards in Kent. plus we are encouraging people to try to recruit more members so have included a membership form and also an article on volunteering with us – do take a look.

To read Kent Voice click here.

Thanks for your support on Farthingloe

CPRE Kent certainly hit the headlines last week with our great news on Farthingloe. We won an important victory in our lengthy legal battle to save an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and two judges at the Court of Appeal quashed the planning application to build 521 homes and a 90 apartment retirement village.

Not only were we on all the local radio and television programmes but the press coverage ranged from the lead story in specialist planning magazines to a prominent three-quarter page feature in The Times. It was covered well in all our local newspapers (with some good supportive comments) and featured in publications as far away as Portsmouth and Scarborough. Plus tens of thousands of Twitter interactions and hundreds of Facebook engagements.

The Times, 15th September 2016

The Times, 15th September 2016

You may be particularly interested to read the following UK Human Rights blog by clicking here.

We also wanted to share some of the positive comments with you – below is just a snapshot:

“My goodness, that is a tiny membership subscription well spent.”
“… just fantastic news!   ”
“What a splendid result.”
“It is terrific that the Appeal Court ‘saw through’ the efforts of Dover DC to pretend that they were taking proper account of the AONB.”
“Wow, it has made our day. What a day for all those of us who want to protect our glorious countryside.”
“It is indeed a very gratifying outcome and makes campaigning on such developments worthwhile,”
“Hooray . Well done indeed!”
“This is indeed a landmark ruling and one which offers a lot of optimism for the future.”
“A brave move for CPRE to take this so far through the courts, but vindicated by absolutely the right result.”
“What a fantastic result – great news for the CPRE and the Kent Downs.”
“Hats off to @CPREKent for its fight to save beautiful countryside in the Kent Downs AONB. Campaigning works!”
“Great news, well done @CPREKent
“Well done @CPREKent We need orgs like u to protect our countryside”
“So pleased for @CPREKent after saving Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty outside Dover from developers.”
“Too right! Congrats @CPREKent Councils should develop brownfield sites & protect countryside”
“Fantastic legal victory for countryside & important precedent requiring decisions to include adequate reasons”
“This is brilliant! Thank you so much! I spoke against this at the original, shambolic planning meeting and I’m over the moon!”
“Restores faith in our legal system”
“I am so glad the hard work has paid off. It is very good news and I finally can celebrate a victory which means hopefully beautiful Kent countryside stays that way.”

Thank you once again to everyone who supports us.

September 19th 2016.

 


Celebrating 90 years of protecting the countryside

Our garden party at to celebrate CPRE’s 90th anniversary was a wonderful occasion. We had a fitting 90 guests and enjoyed the lovely setting of Hever castle. It was also an opportunity to raise our concerns about airport expansion as well as mark 90 years of campaigning to protect our amazing countryside.

A very special couple joined the celebrations – long time CPRE members Peter and Jean Davies who both turned 90 this year, along with the Queen of course. Peter cut the specially made CPRE cake.

All photos by CPRE Senior Planner Paul Buckley – thank you to everyone who made the event such a success.

Peter Davies, aged 90, cutting the CPRE 90th anniversary cake

Peter Davies, aged 90, cutting the CPRE 90th anniversary cake

Peter and Jean Davies, former Kent members, celebrated 90th birthdays on 26/3/1926 and 15/3/1926 respectively

Peter and Jean Davies, former Kent members, celebrated 90th birthdays on 26/3/1926 and 15/3/1926 respectively

 

 

Among the 90 guests were the chairmen of CPRE Kent, Sussex and Surrey, aviation campaigners, many committee chairmen and members of CPRE Kent, our president Craham Clarke and vice presidents Amanda Cottrell DL and Richard Knox-Johnston.

 

Julia Robinson from Wakehurst; Sally Pavey, CPRE Sussex; Brendan Sewill, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign; Duncan Leslie, Chief Executive of Hever Castle; Martin Barraud, Gatwick Obviously Not

Julia Robinson from Wakehurst; Sally Pavey, CPRE Sussex; Brendan Sewill, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign; Duncan Leslie, Chief Executive of Hever Castle; Martin Barraud, Gatwick Obviously Not

Wendy and Graham Clarke with Sarah Sturt from Kent Life

Wendy and Graham Clarke with Sarah Sturt from Kent Life

CPRE Chief Executive Shaun Spiers and CPRE Kent vice president Richard Knox-Johnston

CPRE Chief Executive Shaun Spiers and CPRE Kent vice president Richard Knox-Johnston

Director Hilary Newport, Wendy and president Graham Clarke, vice president Amanda Cottrell DL, chairman Christine Drury

Director Hilary Newport, Wendy and president Graham Clarke, vice president Amanda Cottrell DL, chairman Christine Drury

IMG_3916 resize

 

 

 

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport; Ashford Chair Hilary Moorby; Maidstone Chair Gary Thomas; Kate Britten and Sevenoaks Chair Nigel Britten

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport; Ashford Chair Hilary Moorby; Maidstone Chair Gary Thomas; Kate Britten and Sevenoaks Chair Nigel Britten

 


Landscape Heritage?

By Rose Lister

In my last article I asked what you think of when someone mentions heritage. Have I opened your eyes to the idea that heritage covers more than just bricks and mortar? Now let me ask you, what about hills? What of the valleys and rivers that stand stretching and winding through our county? What of the farmlands that make us the Garden of England? Our landscape is something we all use and rarely consider to be an inheritance, a place of magnificence that holds the secrets of our past. Our landscape feeds us, clothes us and gives us shelter. It gives us the air we breathe. Do we really appreciate it?

In recent years our built heritage has been making waves in the planning system showing that what we created in ages past is precious. Don’t you think that the landscape this lies in deserves to make the same waves? Areas such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have long been recognised and now the settings of historic buildings are also making their mark. In 2014 Barnwell Manor in Northamptonshire won an appeal case that affected the setting of a Grade I listed building. 2015 saw a home win for CPRE Kent when the Waterside Park application was quashed due to the developments negative effects on the setting of the Grade I listed Leeds Castle.

Leeds Castle Aerial Shot, photo Leeds Castle Foundation

However, although landscape that was the main issue, it was the attachment to the heritage asset that made it worth saving. Surely the same curtesy should be extended to our landscape heritage?

Since 2014 CPRE Kent has been fighting a battle to save our landscape heritage. The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been the subject of a skirmish between developers and defenders. The prospective development at Western Heights and Farthingloe is threatening our landscape heritage. Much of the AONB is carefully managed – it is home to much of Kent’s historic fruit farming industry, it thrives with ancient woodland, the landscape holds the stories of generations long gone, even some of the species that live there are endemic. As such this beautiful and versatile landscape has been threatened for the very reason it was designated. It is a beautiful place and people will pay a premium to live in it.

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Continue reading

Lorry park should be “temporary”

We were dismayed last week at the Government’s decision to go ahead with a 3,600 space lorry park in Stanford – on an area of countryside the size of Disneyland.

Even the House of Commons Transport Select Committee had said the need had not been sufficiently proven and neither had it been demonstrated that this was the right solution. Chairman of the select committee Louise Ellman called the decision to go ahead “disappointing”.

 

Stanford site, photo Pete Maddox

Stanford site, photo Pete Maddox

There is no doubt that a solution to the misery of Operation Stack is needed, but we, like the Transport Select Committee members, believe the reflex response of a single large lorry park to corral all the HGVs delayed in crossing the channel is not the right solution. We maintain that a better solution would be the active management of the HGVs that are caught up in delays.

Photo by Hilary Newport

Photo by Hilary Newport

Fleet management logistics, electronic communications and vehicle trackers are already in use, and it would be a simple step to require the drivers of HGVs to abide by the instructions of fleet managers who could direct them to dispersed holding areas along their route, calling them forward at a rate which would guarantee their unimpeded passage across the channel. It would have the benefit of not concentrating slow-moving and stationary HGVs in a single location, and would support the delivery of commercial truck stop spaces to help ease the burden of illegal ‘fly parking’ of HGVs on Kent’s roadsides and lay-bys. It would also require a smaller outlay than the £250 Million earmarked for this project, which works out at £70,000 per parking space.

Photo, kentonline

Photo, kentonline

Governments, of course, have a duty to ensure that public money is spent effectively, and that investment will actually deliver the benefits it is supposed to. The proposals for this lorry park have been developed entirely in the absence of any exploration of less expensive and – importantly – less damaging alternatives. This is not a responsible use of public funds, nor a responsible thing to do to the people of Stanford.

If, as looks likely, the lorry park does go ahead regardless, we are calling on the Government to ensure it is classified as “temporary” – particularly as in planning terms it is being rushed through as an emergency measure.

Political situations and trends change – last year’s acute circumstances of strikes and blockades at Calais coupled with security infringements at the Channel Tunnel, could disappear if France changes its industrial relations and if there are changes in civil war situations and regimes in the rest of the world. We just do not know what the need or situation will be in ten or even five years’ time.

Up until last year it was usually only extreme weather that prompted the need for Operation Stack. We cannot predict future need which is why the lorry park must be treated as temporary. If it is proven years from now to be an empty white elephant that does not solve a problem, the countryside can be restored rather than developed further with housing or factories.

July 12th 2016

Dismay at lorry park decision

We are dismayed that the Government has today (July 6th) announced that the £250m lorry park the size of Disneyland will go ahead in the Kent countryside at Stanford. The Government is to start construction at the Stanford west site which will open next year.

photo, SOS Kent

We have argued that this is not the right solution and we need to look at the whole transport strategy, not least for the devastating effects of air pollution on the crowded and congested south east. This is a costly sticking plaster – £250m is almost the entire UK cycling budget.

It is galling that the Transport Select Committee listened to our arguments and agreed that the case had not yet been made to build this “gargantuan” concrete lorry park and other options should be considered, including a network of smaller lorry parks. Those committee findings seem to have been completely ignored.

Last week Hilary Newport set out her thoughts on the major transport problems facing Kent and called for pause for thought – what follows is her her blog. Continue reading

Why we should buy locally produced food

By Vicky Ellis

In these busy days we can easily be forgiven for a mad ‘one dash does it all’ to our nearest supermarket. However are we in danger of losing more than just local shops and producers? Are we really looking at the bigger picture as we desperately make a grab for that last bag of Spanish apples on the shelf? Who cares it’s just an apple after all – or is it?

Buying locally produced produce is so much more than just buying British. Local produce not only tastes great but helps the environment and the local economy, it can be exciting, invigorating, sociable, mentally stimulating and satisfying.

Potato crop, photo by Vicky Ellis

Potato crop, photo by Vicky Ellis

So let’s take stock for one moment and think, if we buy the first apple/tomato/lettuce that we pick up what are we actually buying into?

Local food is fresher, it hasn’t travelled thousands of miles from the Outer Hebrides for example (I exaggerate to prove a point). It’s more than likely been grown 10-30 miles away, and you may be buying straight from the farm that produced it. Therefore this produce has probably been harvested in the last 24 hours rather than over a week ago and kept refrigerated for all that time journeying by rail, road, sea or air, further refrigerated storage and finally road again to arrive at the supermarkets.

Photo by Vicky Ellis

Photo by Vicky Ellis

Eating fruit and veg in season means you appreciate that cauliflower, potato or sweetcorn all the more. The current June Kent crops of asparagus and strawberries and cherries are delicious. Buying foods grown or produced close to home ensures you will be less likely to be contributing to rainforests being cleared to graze cattle for instance. As importantly it helps to maintain farm land and green spaces near to where you live. If the local farmers are unable to keep their farms viable then they may decide to sell up and it’s highly likely land will be bought by developers.

 

 

Faversham farmers' market, photos Vicky Ellis

Faversham farmers’ market, photos Vicky Ellis

 

Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s produced makes your meals more personal, the challenge of using seasonal fruit and veg in your recipes leads to more interesting mealtimes and buying locally keeps money spent local – supporting restaurants that use local produce, farmers markets and local cooperatives ensuring profits benefit producers rather than the big business supermarkets.

Faversham (21) Faversham (19)

For some, buying local can be an extremely social exercise, the sellers and producers end up on a first name basis and give a more personal service such as putting by that favourite variety of tomato for you.

So it’s not just an apple after all – it’s helping to preserve our way of life, the countryside we all love, that apple is contributing to supporting our local economy and even meeting likeminded people.

To find a farmers market near you http://www.kfma.org.uk/MarketCalendar.asp  to look for artisan producers and bespoke gifts http://www.producedinkent.co.uk/  for recipes using seasonal veg http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/seasons

June 20th 2016

Meet Margaret, one of our volunteers

Celebrating her 85th birthday today (6th June), Margaret Micklewright has been a volunteer with CPRE Kent since around 1999.

She volunteered to help members meet each other socially and started a varied and imaginative programme of outings. She has run well over 100 different trips to places as varied as Chartham Paper Mill, Saltwood castle, the EU headquarters in Brussels, Tenterden Vineyard and Dungeness Power Station.

Margaret 004

Margaret’s personal favourite outing was a visit to the sewers beneath Brighton – stretching a quarter of a mile underneath the sea below the pier and viewing brickwork untouched since 1860. She remembers the group emerging from the tunnels in their hard hats into a nearby park to the surprise of passers-by.

Her career is a varied one including time working for a consultant anaesthetist on drug trials,  admin work for Ted Heath and exporting spares for textile machinery all over the world. A lifelong countryside and heritage champion, she volunteered for the National Trust for 12 years before coming to the CPRE Kent in 1999.

Margaret also volunteers at the College of Arms where she is secratary to the Windsor Herald of Arms in Ordinary. Always busy, she says she will not slow down until she’s at least 100.

“Margaret really is an inspiration to us,” said CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury. “She is a great example of someone whose volunteering really enriches the charity. We can concentrate on our campaigning work and Margaret adds to the social and fun side which members enjoy so much.”

Margaret has many more outings planned – find out more here and see her full programme here. She gains her inspiration from chatting to people and word of mouth. Plus she organises the annual Christmas lunch – held in January each year.