The presence of three pairs of turtle doves – one of the fastest-declining species of bird in the country – was not enough to block permission for more than 200 new homes on the site of the former Betteshanger colliery. Quinn Estates last night (Thursday, May 27) won approval from Dover District Council’s planning committee to build 210 houses, 2,500 square metres of office space and 150 sq m of shopping space. The proposal was approved on the casting vote of the committee chairman. CPRE Kent had objected to the proposal and submitted a substantial environmental statement. Altogether, there were more than 80 objections, many relating to the loss of wildlife. A spokesman for the Friends of Betteshanger, the group formed to oppose the scheme, said: “There was some well-argued opposition, but ultimately it was agreed that Section 106 agreements to finalise mitigation and compensation were an acceptable way forward. “We hope we will see the day when environmental considerations really are centre-stage and wildlife is given the protection it deserves.” Extraordinarily, the mitigation reportedly included a pledge to relocate the site’s turtles doves – a migratory bird that winters in sub-Saharan Africa. Extraordinary… and depressing that such nonsense could be taken seriously by a planning committee.
Would you like to help campaigners in their battle to protect a swathe of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Beauty from a highly damaging development? Wootton Environment Protection Group is challenging Dover District Council’s decision to allow Lydden Hill race circuit to increase the days it can be used from 52 days a year to 364. The council’s backing for the circuit means people living in nearby villages such as Denton, Shepherdswell and Wootton would have to suffer further intrusive noise, toxic fumes and extreme light pollution. However, WEPG has secured a judicial review of the decision and this is likely to be heard in the High Court in April or May. Such moves do not of course come cheaply and the group has set up a crowdfunding page to help cover the cost. A group spokesman said: “WEPG has worked tirelessly for years to protect our natural environment. We have already raised £15,000, but we need to raise a further £10,000 to challenge this damaging decision. “We could really do with some help in protecting our beautiful and tranquil area for generations to come from this ruthless and ill-thought-out development.” CPRE Kent supported the campaign during its early stages. A spokesman for the countryside charity said: “What we really want is Dover District Council to take seriously the need for proper controls at the circuit and engage in proper liaison with neighbouring communities. “The present operations at Lydden respect neither the AONB nor the neighbours and the proposals would make matters even worse without proper controls and respect. “Sadly, the only way forward, as things stand, is through a judicial review.” We’ll leave the final word to the WEPG spokesman: “If you can, please donate to our campaign and share what we’re doing with your family and friends. Every penny will be so very welcomed and appreciated. All administrative costs are absorbed by our volunteers.”
If you would like to contribute to the Wootton Environment Protection Group as it prepares for the High Court judicial review, please click here
For more on the expansion of Lydden Hill race circuit, click here
The proposal to expand Lydden Hill racing circuit has been approved by Dover District Council. Some 100 members of the public were at the DDC planning meeting last night (Thursday, January 30) to hear councillors back proposals to pull down the circuit’s two-storey administration building and replace it with a two- to three-floor pavilion including office space, external viewing areas, function areas and six garages. Permission for a new access road from Geddinge Lane and extra land for parking was also sought. In addition, the applicant wanted permission to carry on motor-racing events 52 days a year as well as use the site for bicycle training and racing and advanced driver tuition. Further, there are plans for corporate events and motorsport experience days. DDC planning officers had recommended approval of the scheme, but the local authority says the permission includes some 30 conditions, several relating to more stringent noise monitoring. Forty-nine ‘silent days’ including 10 weekends, when no motor vehicles can be used at the circuit, form part of those conditions. Noise management will be reviewed every six months for the first two years and annually after that. Councillor Michael Holloway moved for the application to be approved. “There had been racing at Lydden Hill at least since 1947,” he said. “This will provide significant employment benefits.” Roger Walkden, seconding the motion, added: “Lydden Hill circuit was established before people in the surrounding villages moved there. This scheme would bring significant advantage to the district.” Peter Walker was another councillor supporting the plans: “Dover needs to be revitalised. Jobs are needed and more leisure facilities are needed. Tourism now plays a big part in our future.” Dover CPRE had objected to the scheme when it was first mooted in 2015 and maintained its opposition to what was being promoted. Derek Wanstall, chairman, had said: “The circuit’s proposed expansion can only bring more noise and traffic problems to the nearby village of Wootton, plus the site is within an AONB. Residents’ tranquillity and quality of life can only deteriorate if the expansion is approved.” Councillor Peter Jull supported objectors, saying: “This has affected people in Denton and Wootton with noise, litter, fumes and traffic.” It was reported at the meeting that there were 1,224 letters in favour of the application and 98 opposing it.