The campaign to save Wincheap Water Meadows in Canterbury…

View over the water meadows in May

On 15 October, Canterbury City Council approved a highly controversial planning application to extend its Wincheap Park & Ride carpark onto a large stretch of floodplain next to the river Stour, an area of land known as the Wincheap Water Meadows.  

View towards water meadow

The principle of extending the Park & Ride is largely uncontentious.  Part of the existing footprint of the Park & Ride will be lost when a new slip road off the A2 is constructed, and there is an accepted need to replace the parking spaces lost and increase capacity for the future.  

The proposal site

What is highly contentious is the choice of location for the extension.  The Council’s chosen location is a large area of functional floodplain outside the city’s urban boundary.   The car park will extend for over 250m along the river Stour in an Area of High Landscape Value, a designated Green Corridor and a Local Wildlife Site.  The Council’s planning report pretends that there will be no real landscape impact and that views of the carpark from the Great Stour Way on the opposite riverbank will only be ‘glimpsed’.  In reality, the landscape impact is likely to be substantial.  Views across the river from the Great Stour Way, at present greatly enjoyed by the large number of walkers and cyclists who use it, will be turned into something much less attractive.  As the application was made by Canterbury City Council for its own land, many members of the public feel that the Council had an even greater duty to present the facts of the application in an unbiased and comprehensive manner.  As it is, the planning report reads like a report from the applicant itself rather than an impartial assessment.

Satellite view of location (source: Google Maps)

Development on the water meadows breaches many of the Council’s own policies and strategies, including many policies in its Local Plan, its Open Spaces Policy, its Riverside Strategy, its Green Infrastructure Strategy and the Canterbury Conservation Area Appraisal.  However, the Council argues that local residents had the opportunity to object when it consulted on its Transport Strategy in 2015-2016 and that the principle of development on that location was accepted when the Local Plan was adopted in 2017.  The fact that residents simply did not know where the extension was going to be located is conveniently ignored.  The Environment Agency objected strongly to the first planning application earlier this year, but was informed by the Council that it couldn’t maintain its objection as it had not objected when the Local Plan was approved.  Kent Wildlife Trust has also submitted a very strong objection saying that, ‘We regard the compensation strategy proposed for this development as fundamentally flawed and in clear contravention of existing national and local planning policy’.

Many of the opponents to the application point out that Canterbury City Council owns most of the large industrial estate adjacent to the Park & Ride and that it should be building carparks on brownfield land rather than greenfield land.  But the Council refuses to consider any other alternative.  It claims that its recent Declaration of Climate Emergency means that reducing the carbon emissions from cars takes precedence over the protection of the natural environment – a claim which many people find totally perverse.

The Save Wincheap Water Meadows campaign has attracted a huge amount of public support and the Canterbury branch of CPRE has played a lead role in challenging the application.  There are over 3100 signatures on a Change.org petition; 775 representations from the public objecting to the planning application (with only one representation in favour) and over 460 members in the Campaign’s Facebook group.  There have been many letters and articles in the local paper and large numbers of people attending the Council meetings where the Park & Ride proposal has been discussed.  There have been a number of songs written about the campaign by a local musician, Richard Navarro, including the one below (see link):

The campaign to save Wincheap Water Meadows in Canterbury…The campaign to save Wincheap Water Meadows in Canterbury…NB:  The link to the Council’s planning application report is:https://democracy.canterbury.gov.uk/documents/s105288/CA1802551FUL%20-%20Wincheap%20Park%20Ride%20-%20REPORT.pdf

Don’t cave in to the drinks industry lobbyists! CPRE urges government to adopt ‘all-in’ deposit return system

More than one in four bottles littering our countryside may not be included in the deposit return scheme (DRS) if the government buckles under pressure from industry, according to CPRE.
Responding to the publication of the Environment Bill, which will allow for the creation of the DRS, CPRE is urging the government to continue with its ambition for all drinks containers – no matter the size or material – to be included in the system and not fold under industry lobbying.
The Bill allows for the creation of the DRS but does not specify what will be included or when it will be introduced.
Evidence for an ‘all-in’ scheme continues to build, with the CPRE’s Green Clean, a nationwide litter-pick carried out in September, suggesting that millions of drinks containers would still end up littering our countryside if industry secured a limited system to serve their vested interests.
Key stats from CPRE’s Green Clean, which took place across England, include:

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of glass bottles collected were over the 750ml size limit, the current upper limit for the ‘on the go’ DRS being pushed by key industries
  • More than a quarter (28%) of plastic bottles found littering the countryside were larger than the common 500ml bottle size and could be excluded from the scheme being pushed by key industry stakeholders
  • Some 7,500 drinks containers were collected during the month-long litter-pick, including cans, plastic bottles of all sizes and glass bottles

Additionally, more than one in 10 drinks containers collected were glass, a figure that does not include the shattered pieces of glass volunteers were unable to count. These would all be left to harm people, and wildlife, should industry succeed in excluding glass from the deposit return scheme.
Tom Fyans, CPRE deputy chief executive, said: “It’s great to see the government include powers to introduce a DRS in the Environment Bill, but as the results of our nationwide litter-pick demonstrate, to be an effective deterrent to the high volumes of waste polluting our natural environment, it must cover all materials of all sizes.
“To boost recycling rates for all drinks containers – cans, glass and plastic bottles, cartons and pouches – the only option is for the government to introduce an ‘all-in’ system.
“The industries that would be required to pay for the deposit return scheme continue to try to limit its scope, but we urge the government to prioritise the needs of the environment and society over corporate vested interests.
“As the Secretary of State for the Environment announced the publication of the Environment Bill, it was encouraging to hear her recognise the benefits of the DRS in England being the same as the DRS being introduced in Scotland, which will be ‘all-in’.
“This provides further hope that the government is listening as we make the case for an ambitious approach to tackling the problem of litter. But there is no time to waste, so we hope the DRS element of the Bill will be a priority as the government takes forward this vital piece of legislation.”

Monday, October 28, 2019

Star Count attracts thousands as problem of light pollution shines bright

A record 2,300 people took part in this year’s Star Count.
The count, held over the first three weeks of February, revealed that just 2% of participants experienced the wonders of a truly dark sky full of stars, due to the impact of light pollution caused by street lighting and other artificial lights, even in the countryside.
CPRE is calling for action to tackle light pollution and enable more people to enjoy the beauty of a starry sky.
The cosmic census, which was supported by the British Astronomical Association, aimed to promote dark skies and engage people in the wonders of stargazing. Star-spotters submitted the number of stars they could see within the constellation of Orion and the results used to create an interactive map displaying people’s view of the night sky. But it also demonstrated the impact that light pollution is having on people’s view of the stars.
Well over half of all participants (57%) failed to see more than 10 stars, meaning they are severely impacted by light pollution. In contrast, only 9% of people experienced ‘dark skies’, counting between 21 and 30 stars, while just 2% experienced ‘truly dark skies’ and were able to count more than 30 stars – half the proportion of people able to do so during the previous Star Count, in 2014.
CPRE suggests the results show we can do more to combat light pollution. Given its detrimental impact – not just on people’s view of the night sky but also the behaviour of nature and wildlife, as well as human health – we are urging the government, local councils and general public to do more to limit the impact of artificial light from streets and buildings.
Emma Marrington, dark skies campaigner at CPRE, said: “We’re hugely grateful to the many people who took the time to get out and take part in our Star Count. But it’s deeply disappointing that the vast majority were unable to experience the natural wonder of a truly dark sky, blanketed with stars. Without intervention, our night sky will continue to be lost under a veil of artificial light, to the detriment of our own health, and the health of the natural world.
“The Star Count results show just how far-reaching the glow from streetlights and buildings can be seen. Light doesn’t respect boundaries, and careless use can see it spread for miles from towns, cities, businesses and motorways, resulting in the loss of one of the countryside’s most magical sights – a dark, starry night sky.
“By using well-designed lighting only when and where it is needed, investing in street light dimming schemes and considering part-night lighting – which should of course be done in consultation with the local community and police – councils have a fantastic opportunity to limit the damage caused by light pollution, reduce carbon emissions and save money.”

  • See the interactive map showing people’s view of the night sky here

Wednesday, August 9, 2019

Count the stars and see how lucky we are (or otherwise)

Light pollution from Thanet Earth… believe it or not, it’s even worse than this now (pic Craig Solly)

Sometimes television or film shows us night skies that are quite simply jaw-dropping. They portray millions of stars, together forming a spectacle that in places turns an otherwise black sky white.
Others might be more fortunate enough to take holidays in places that allow them to be dazzled directly in person.
One thing is certain, though, and that is that such experiences cannot be enjoyed to such a degree in our corner of the world. Partly this is down to geography, but of course the main culprit denying us views of the stars is light pollution.
And light pollution doesn’t get much worse than in east Kent, where the glasshouse complex of Thanet Earth has been recorded as the second-worst offender in the country, only the Tata Steel plant in Rotherham emitting more nocturnal light.
With the expansion of Thanet Earth, the problem has of course worsened, so by now it could potentially be the worst light polluter in the land.
Either way, the extraordinary orange glow over the site can be seen from miles around, most strikingly when there is low cloud. At times, the sky appears to be on fire… this is light pollution on an epic scale.
More generally, CPRE is next month (February) highlighting the issue nationally by bringing back the Star Count.
We are all being asked to count the number of stars we can see with the naked eye within the constellation of Orion, which is only visible in winter.
The national Star Count will take place during the darkest skies from Saturday, February 2, to Saturday, February 23, giving families the chance to join in during half-term, although the darkest skies are predicted for February 2-9. Supported by the British Astronomical Association, the results from Star Count 2019 will help CPRE create a new map showing how light pollution affects the nation’s views of the night sky and raise awareness of light pollution.
This year’s count will be a small trial event, with a view to expanding it into a larger engagement piece next year. You can find out how to take part at www.cpre.org.uk/starcount
Please do join us and encourage your friends and family to do the same – we all love the stars.

  • To see where your nearest dark skies are, see our NightBlight maps here

 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Cleve Hill: another reminder to register your interest. Pretty pleeease…

The special landscape of Graveney Marshes would be destroyed if the Cleve Hill solar park was approved (pic Vicky Ellis)

Sorry (sort of) to return to this theme so quickly – and it won’t be the last time – but it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to register your interest in plans for the UK’s biggest solar farm, on the North Kent Marshes.
The Planning Inspectorate’s decision to consider Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd’s application for a Development Consent Order allowing it to build a 1,000-acre solar power station near Faversham means we all have until Monday, January 28, to register as an Interested Party.
Your views must initially be registered in no more than 500 words.
Please note that registration does not commit you to anything. However, if you do want to become involved and make representation to the inquiry inspector, you must have registered during this period.
To go to the registration form, click here
This will also take you to a tab letting you view the application documents. You might, however, find them easier to navigate via Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd’s website here.
CPRE Kent will of course be registering as an Interested Party. We expect our final draft to include the following concerns:

  • Damage to landscape, including tranquillity and dark skies
  • Inadequate assessment of flood risk and potential conflict with the Environment Agency’s ‘managed retreat’ strategy relating to future sea-level rise
  • Impacts on soil microclimate and hydrology
  • Ecological impacts and loss of biodiversity
  • Damage to heritage assets caused by traffic during construction and beyond the construction period
  • Loss of agricultural land
  • Threats to animal welfare

To learn more about what these plans might mean for this vast area, in one of this country’s most important areas for wetland birds, please see here

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

We could build more than a million homes on brownfield land… so why aren’t we?

No bars to building on brownfield sites…

It might seem obvious to many of us, but if we focus attention on building on brownfield (previously developed) land rather than greenfield sites, we will be both making better use of derelict urban and post-industrial land and safeguarding our countryside from development.
However, not everyone would appear to agree and CPRE’s contention that we could spare many of our green fields by targeting development at brownfield sites has too often been dismissed by the government.
Now, though, our argument is supported by a survey showing the country has enough brownfield land to take at least one million homes.
This figure – presented in our report State of Brownfield 2018 – is more than five times that claimed by the government and drawn from CPRE analysis of data from local authorities and their Brownfield Land Registers.
More than two-thirds of those potential ‘brownfield homes’ could be built within the next five years – and many of those in areas with apparent high housing need.
Or, in other words, three of the next five years’ government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified by councils.
All local planning authorities had been required to publish Brownfield Land Registers by December 31 last year, but more than one in five failed to meet the deadline.
As of January 31, 18 were still to publish. At the time of writing, Ashford and Swale councils are among those to still make their submissions.
The CPRE analysis found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering more than 28,000 hectares, would provide land for at least 1,052,124 homes – a figure that could rise to more than 1.1 million once all the registers are published… confirming CPRE’s previous estimates.
It also discovered that many brownfield sites that had been granted planning permission for housing had yet to be developed.
Maidstone Borough Council is one of four local authorities highlighted as having granted permissions more than five years ago for sites that have not subsequently been developed.
The Maidstone figure relates to 11 brownfield sites, with the potential for building at least 393 homes, where no development has taken place and planning permission has now expired.
Regions identified as having the highest number of potential ‘deliverable’ homes include London, the North West and the South East, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.
Rebecca Pullinger, CPRE planning campaigner, said: “It’s fantastic news that local authorities have identified so many sites on brownfield land that are ready and waiting to be developed – and shown how wide of the mark the government’s estimates of brownfield capacity have been.
“Contrary to what the government and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure. Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could be much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.
“The government needs to get on with amending its guidance to make sure that councils identify all the available brownfield sites in their areas. They then need to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure they follow through on their commitment that all new-builds should be on brownfield first.”
The registers have found sites for well over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission.
To make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is calling on the government to take the opportunity presented by the forthcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a brownfield-first approach to land release and granting planning permission for development.
Local authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives, CPRE believes.

  • CPRE Kent intends to develop this story with the specific focus on our county. Do you know of any brownfield sites with planning permission for housing that have yet to be developed? Please let us know at david.mairs@cprekent.org.uk
  • To read State of Brownfield 2018, click here

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Take part in our lottery and win some money. Go on, you know you want to!

Help CPRE Kent… and boost your own coffers

Now we know you all love to have fun, you love to help raise funds for CPRE Kent… and you just might not be averse to winning a bit of money here and there.
Which is where our 400 Club comes in. Join it and you give yourself the opportunity to win cash in this year’s CPRE Kent Lottery, which is now open to you all!
The lottery is one of the main ways CPRE Kent raises money, so this is your chance to help protect this county’s ever-diminishing countryside while possibly making your wallet a little heftier.
And guess what! It will only cost you £12 for the whole year!
At least 60% of the lottery takings are used for charitable causes, leaving up to 40% for cash prizes!
Each share is £12 for a year and there is no limit on how many you can buy. It almost goes without saying, but the more you buy, the better your chances of winning.
And you can always give a share as a gift to someone special.
Draws take place each month until December 31, 2018.
Prize-winners will be contacted by CPRE Kent within two weeks of the draw date and their
names published in Kent Voice magazine.
To join the 400 Club and play the CPRE Kent Lottery, click on the link below, print off the form and return it to the address provided.

Click here to join the 400 Club

We’re recruiting!

Do you have a keen interest in Kent’s countryside and in helping to create a positive future where the homes that we need are built in the right places, and that we can all share and enjoy a beautiful, thriving countryside?

We have a vacancy for a Part Time Planner. Details can be found here: Planner Job Advert Planner Person Specification and Job Description Planner application form

CPRE Kent offers great working conditions, pension and holiday entitlement.


Protect our Green Belt

We must protect our Green Belt for future generations. It prevents urban sprawl as well as providing countryside for recreation and relaxation, tranquillity, important habitats and areas for nature, the environment and farming.

Much of west Kent is Green Belt – in fact it covers 93% of Sevenoaks, 77% of Gravesham, 71% of Tonbridge and Malling, 56% of Dartford and 22% of Tunbridge Wells.

Strengthening the protection for Green belts and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an important point in our 2017 election manifesto. Have a look at the video below to see how much the Green Belt is loved.

Christine_1080_BLANK

May 15th 2017

CPRE Manifesto for 2017 election

CPRE’s manifesto calls on all parties in the election to recognise the countryside’s huge contribution to the economy and our sense of who we are as individuals and communities, and to develop policies that will protect and enhance rural areas.

2517243356_27a069a6ce_o

We are calling for:

  • stronger protection of Green Belts and AONBs
  • investment in urban regeneration, especially brownfield sites
  • funding for farming to ensure we are a resilient nation in terms of food and environment and to reverse the decline in nature, in soils and in landscapes
  • an overhaul of transport policy in favour of a better integrated and sustainable approach
  • reduce waste and pollution by committing to resource efficiency schemes, such as deposit return systems
  • transpose all EU environmental protections into domestic law and introduce an ambitious new Environment Act

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Read our manifesto here.

April 27th 2017.

Lorry park consultation response

CPRE Kent has submitted its response to the lorry park consultation, reiterating our stance that a single, huge lorry park is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

Photo, kentonline

Photo, kentonline

Kent is an inevitable and unavoidable bottleneck in the flow of traffic between the UK and the rest of mainland Europe, and the rising volume of freight transiting this bottleneck is the most important issue that needs to be addressed. The disruption caused by Operation Stack in 2015 demonstrated the fragility of the logistics industry’s reliance on this concentrated route.

Operation stack 036  Operation stack 032

Instead of an expensive and damaging lorry park, we call for a solution which would offer real resilience to the nation’s trade and transport links and offer flexible alternatives to the logistics industry, both now and in the future. We believe that investment should instead be made into mandatory improvements in fleet management practices, so that no HGV driver benefits from racing to be nearest the front of a physical queue in Kent in the event of delays in the normal operations of the crossings.

This solution would also put an end to the anti-social ‘fly parking’ of HGVs which blights Kent’s roads, and it would remove the need for the implementation of ‘Dover TAP’ which holds HGVs back in the A20 approaching Dover. While this limits air pollution in the centre of Dover, it causes delays to other road users and merely shifts the air pollution to other areas, such as Aycliffe.

Hilary Newport commented: “We object in the strongest terms to the significant expenditure of public money on a built solution, in the marked absence of a transport strategy that does anything other than support and indeed encourage the steady growth of road based freight.”

In our response we also raise concerns about flooding, the impact on the landscape, heritage assets and the environment, loss of public rights of way and loss of agricultural land.

To read the full response click here.

There is still time to respond to the consultation – the deadline is 23rd september. See the link below for details:

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/he/managing-freight-vehicles-through-kent/

September 12th 2016


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

We need affordable rural homes

This week is #RuralHousingWeek and we have been considering some of the issues and challenges rural communities face when it comes to housing.

Photo, Hastoe

Photo, Hastoe

We firmly believe that genuinely affordable housing is the bedrock of a thriving, living countryside,
but we are troubled by the fact that house prices are seven times average earnings in rural areas,
compared with 5.9 times in urban areas.
Rural vs Urban
In fact in Sevenoaks average house prices are 10.5 times average salary and in Tunbridge Wells 10.3 times.
Agricultural and other rural workers’ annual earnings are far lower (average £19,700 compared with £26,900 urban) which makes it even more difficult for people to live in the villages where they grew up or where they work.
CPRE is calling for:
  • Local communities should be empowered through neighbourhood planning while housing policy should be “rural proofed” to deliver what the countryside needs: high-quality, affordable housing.
  • The government must ensure rural areas, including areas of natural beauty and national parks, are exempt from the forced sale of council homes.
  • Empower small and medium-sized enterprise builders with local knowledge to provide affordable homes in rural areas.
  • The Government must focus on the delivery of the right housing in the right places.

New interactive map of threats to the Green Belt

London Green Belt Council with CPRE London and seven other CPRE branches have made an interactive map showing threats to the London (Metropolitan) Green Belt. It is a worrying picture.

Screenshot of Threats Map

Campaigners have today published a map of threats to London’s Green Belt. It shows nearly 200 sites under threat from development and proposals for building over 110,000 houses on protected green belt land.

Catherine Maguire, Green Belt Campaigner, said: “London’s Green Belt has saved our countryside. It is hugely valuable – more so now than ever, with more and more pressure being piled on the South East. If it had not been for the London Green Belt preventing urban sprawl, London could have followed the example of Los Angeles, and now spread from Brighton to Cambridge, with millions of people car-dependent and horrendous traffic and pollution problems.

“The planning system has been weakened to the extent that even the ‘strongest protection’ afforded to green belt land is being ignored on a widespread basis. Even though the government has clarified that housing needs cannot ‘trump’ green belt, it has also piled pressure on councils to release land for new homes and does not take action when protected green belt land is released. This is flagrantly hypocritical.”

You can view the map here. To find out more about the Green Belt, its history and legal status, have a look at the London Green Belt Council website.

May 24th 2016


Great news – we have been granted leave to appeal on Farthingloe

CPRE Kent has been granted leave to appeal against the judicial review judgement in our fight to save the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe near Dover.

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

Farthingloe view from Western Heights, photo CPRE

An appeal court judge has said that our arguments over mitigation to the AONB “raise an arguable point which has real prospects of success.”

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “This is great news – we have been determined to save this beautiful area of countryside. The harm to the AONB cannot be justified and we are heartened that the judge has agreed to our appeal on this important point.”

We argued that the judicial review judge had been wrong to conclude that the application to build 521 houses and a 90 home retirement village at Farthingloe complied with planning law (paragraph 116 of the National Planning Policy framework (NPPF)).

Dover District Council planning officers had criticised the density and layout of the scheme and recognised that it would have significant adverse impact on the AONB. Councillors ignored this advice and agreed to the proposals without any mitigation measures.

CPRE Kent, Natural England, the Kent Downs AONB Unit and the National Trust all opposed the decision and it is astounding that the case was not called in by the Secretary of State despite the strongest recommendations from his advisors.

Christine Drury added: “We will never give up on our countryside. I would like to thank everyone who continues to support us in this important battle. It is absolutely central to our cause that we fight to protect beautiful, protected, unspoilt areas of countryside for future generations.”

We will now prepare for the Court of Appeal hearing which could be some months away.

Read more on the background to this hereherehere and here.

May 10th 2016.