Fears for coastal environment as wind farm developer looks to run cables through Pegwell Bay

There are concerns for the natural environment of Pegwell Bay if the Vattenfall cable route is approved

Plans to run electricity cables from a wind farm across one of the county’s premier nature reserves are being challenged for the environmental damage they would cause.
Vattenfall Wind Power Ltd has applied to the UK Planning Inspectorate for consent to build an extension to the Thanet Offshore Windfarm, a development that would require cables to take electricity from the offshore turbines to the National Grid.
The onshore part of the proposed cable route would cross Pegwell Bay, part of the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve.
However, this is an internationally important site for wildlife. Aside from being a National Nature Reserve, it is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Ramsar site and Special Protection Area (SPA).
Richard Kinzler is chairman of the Pegwell and District Association, an associate member of CPRE Kent, and is deeply critical of the Vattenfall scheme.
“Renewables companies and the government pledge to ‘go green’, but many of their projects are chipping away at our rare habitats across the UK.
“Vattenfall is such a company with its proposed cable route, which will cross Sandwich and Pegwell Bay, cutting through this site of national and international importance for wildlife, with every designation from SSSI to Ramsar.
“All too often the promises are purest greenwash, in this case used to conceal the destruction of coastal saltmarsh and ancient duneland pasture.
“Also consider the populations of many bird and bat species that are experiencing long-term declines, due in part to habitat loss, while it is estimated that many thousands of birds and bats die when they collide with these turbine blades.
“These projects slowly change the landscape by eroding habitat. We believe that alternative routes are the way forward.”
David Morrish, chairman of Thanet CPRE, shares the concerns.
“Despite Vattenfall’s alleged intention to avoid and minimise impacts on environment and ecosystems from its, operations, it is considered by Thanet CPRE that the impact of the proposals on the precious environment of Pegwell Bay area cannot be avoided or mitigated by the proposed routeing.
“Vattenfall should examine and carefully consider and assess alternative potential routes, along with potential compensation and restoration measures. Ideally, the route would avoid Pegwell Bay completely.”
Kent Wildlife Trust manages much of the area and has highlighted that construction and maintenance of the cable route could lead to the permanent loss, degradation and fragmentation of saltmarsh.
This irreplaceable habitat is an ever-decreasing resource in the South East. The saltmarsh at Pegwell is important for many species, including internationally protected breeding and wintering birds.
The trust believes the proposed cable route, which crosses the nature reserve, risks significant adverse impacts on both habitats and species of international importance.
Further, it believes that alternative routes avoiding the designated areas have not been adequately assessed.
Kent Wildlife Trust is not opposed to wind power and is keen to clarify that it is in favour of initiatives to reduce human reliance on fossil-fuel energy generation.
However, it says this must not be at the expense of other aspects of the natural environment.
A spokesman said: “As with many development issues, it is important to consider the location, in this case where and how cables are laid.
“There are potentially significant issues with this particular proposal in this particular location.”
The proposal has been classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project so will be determined in a different way from a ‘standard’ planning application.
The trust has consulted with the developer since early last year, working with other stakeholders including the National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in assessing and responding to preliminary proposals for the development.
There has been some collective success in ensuring the marine environment is protected, but Kent Wildlife Trust continues to oppose the application while keeping open lines of communication with the developer.
Vattenfall has stated publicly “[We] commit to the protection of nature and biodiversity” and “strive to avoid and minimise impacts on environment and ecosystems from [their] operations. Where impacts cannot be fully avoided or mitigated, [Vattenfall] consider potential compensation and restoration measures”.
A decision by the Planning Inspectorate on the application is expected in mid-2019.

  • For more on this application, visit the Planning Inspectorate website here

Monday, December 10, 2018

 

 

 

 

Dr David Neden: a tribute to a CPRE champion

Dr David Neden fought tirelessly for Pegwell Bay and the surrounding area

Dr David Neden, once one of the most active members of the Thanet district group of CPRE Kent and a co-founder of the Pegwell & District Association, has died.
His passing, on Friday, July 20, means east Kent bids farewell to one of the most passionate and determined campaigners for the natural environment in our area.
Dr Neden was born in Carshalton (then Surrey, now London) in January 1929 and went to school in nearby Sutton, gaining Higher Certificates in zoology, botany, physics and chemistry before heading to University College London and then University College Hospital medical school.
Eighteen months of house jobs at medical school preceded two years’ National Service, from 1954-55, which he saw out as a doctor in the Royal Navy.
Two more hospital jobs followed before Dr Neden became a general practice trainee in Middlesex. Just a few months later, however, in late 1957, he took a job as a GP at the Grange Road surgery in Ramsgate, where he was to stay until retirement in 2005.
Moving with him to Thanet was wife Irene, the pair having married during Dr Neden’s spell in Middlesex; they had met during his time at medical school.
Settled happily in Ramsgate, the couple brought up their children Sarah, John (himself a GP in Ramsgate today) and Andrew.
Although his last home was in Grange Road, Dr Neden had lived for many years on the West Cliff with Irene, who passed away in 2009.
Dr Neden had enjoyed a strong Christian faith since his school days and was a regular at Christ Church Ramsgate and a trustee of the Sailors Church by the harbour.
Moving to Thanet sparked an interest in the natural environment and this formed the bedrock of his involvement in the creation of the Pegwell & District Association in April 1987.
This had been prompted by a London developer’s plans to run a railway line through the Pegwell cliffs, along the West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour.
The battle against the scheme was won, although eventually, after further proposals and public inquiries, a publicly-funded tunnel and road to the harbour were built.
Reflecting many years later on the outcome, Dr Neden had said: “The amazing irony was that the very day the road opened, the ferry company Sally, which was operating out of Ramsgate, went bust.”
He also drew a typically positive outcome from what had happened: “The tunnel, I suppose, was the best of a bad job.”
Both Dr Neden (he only stepped down from the committee last year) and Irene carried on their work for the Pegwell association, while they were active members of the Thanet district group of CPRE Kent.
The Pegwell association flourished to the point that at one time it had some 230 members on board, with a healthy social scene that included parties and a range of outings to places outside the area.
Asked what he considered to be the association’s greatest achievement, Dr Neden had said: “We added to the opposition to unseemly development and have continued to be alert. And we have made friends out of it.”

  • Dr David Arthur John Neden died on Friday, July 20, 2018. He leaves daughter Sarah and sons John and Andrew. There will be a thanksgiving service at 11am on Thursday, August 30, at Christ Church Ramsgate. It is asked that donations in lieu of flowers go to Pilgrims Hospices c/o HR Palmer, Funeral Directors, 30 Hardres Street, Ramsgate CT11 8QF.

 

Pegwell Bay’s own defender of the realm, Eileen Randall

Eileen and Oggle the goose, Christmas 1980

Eileen proudly presents the yucca tree in her garden, August 2011

Eileen tackles a pumpkin, January 2010

This is an extended version of an article by David Mairs, CPRE Kent campaigns and PR manager, that appeared in the most recent edition of Kent Voice  

In a previous life as chairman of CPRE Thanet, I was supported by a small but stoic group of volunteers who battled all weathers and circumstances to help keep the district group alive.
One of them was Eileen Randall, who also helped create the Pegwell & District Association, a member of CPRE Kent. This piece pays tribute to the kind of volunteer so important to what we do.  

On first mention, it might seem an irony that the founder of an organisation devoted to the protection of arguably Thanet’s finest stretch of coastline hails from somewhere about as inland in this country as you can get.
But then again, when you learn a little of the family background, everything falls into place.
Eileen Randall was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and educated in Bedford, but it was her father’s love of the sea that brought this woman who would play a such a role in the protection of Pegwell Bay to east Kent.
“My father was an old sailor in the Merchant Navy and he had always wanted to live by the sea,” said Eileen.
“We were living in Bedford during the war, but afterwards my father immediately looked for a property here – and one in Ramsgate took his fancy.”
So for William Pangbourne and wife Emily life was about to take a sharp turn as they moved to the golden isle (or Thanet, as it is also known) in 1946.
Buying a guest house, Allandale, in North Avenue, the couple utilised the catering skills they had developed during their time running a restaurant in St Albans.
Living the dream certainly, but the lure of nearby Pegwell was too strong and the family’s association with the bay was set in train when the property that was ultimately to evolve into Eileen’s Driftwood home came on the market.
“The coastal areas that had been closed to the public during wartime were opened up again,” said Eileen, now 88. “Land was being released by the Army and being put up for auction through Daltons Weekly.
“The building we’re in now was built on the ruined foundations of the old coastguard station – a long, narrow building divided into little rooms with a passage down one side. The blockhouse next door was the armoury, with 2ft-thick walls with slits that you could just about peep out of. There were rolls and rolls of barbed wire and deep slit trenches – it took about a year to clear it all.”
Eileen sold teas and home-made cakes on the lawn at the front, and with help from her father managed to save enough for the deposit for the bungalow to be built. She slept in an old army pillbox as all the work was going on.
“We called it Driftwood, which was appropriate because we used to get wood washed up at the bottom of the cliff.”
Work began on the bungalow in 1960, but other aspects of Eileen’s life had also been moving apace: in December 1951 at St George’s Church in Ramsgate she married Derek, who had just been demobbed from the Army, specifically the Household Cavalry based at Windsor.
It was all hands to the pump, meanwhile, as the family established themselves in Thanet, Derek taking on a range of jobs locally before travelling up and down to Luton as he re-engaged with his former work at Vauxhall Motors. Like most ex-servicemen, Derek had difficulty settling to a civilian life.
With Eileen and Derek’s sons Christopher, born in 1953, and Julian (1954) on the scene, everything seemed rosy in the garden, but there were dark clouds on the horizon.
It was in the late 1980s that plans were revealed for a railway line cutting through Pegwell Bay and the West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour.
Linked with the expansion of the harbour and the construction of a new port and breakwater, the line would cross fields from a junction with the present line and break through the cliffs in a cutting where The Pegwell Bay Hotel still looks out over its gardens to the shore.
Paradise was in danger of being lost.
“People were up in arms about it,” said Eileen, a woman who was never going to engage simply in some wild waving of limbs, physical or metaphorical. The fight was on.
The first move was the creation in April 1987 of the Pegwell & District Association after about a hundred folk had gathered on the lawns of Driftwood to discuss a response to the scheme.
Eileen was the principal driver, aided and abetted more than ably by Jacqui Williams and Mike Houghton.
The plans for the railway line were beaten off as Pegwell residents flexed their muscles as well as their powers to have fun… for this was no collection of hatchet-faced moaners with a taste only for gloom and doom.
Instead, as the association looked to raise both funds and awareness, Driftwood hosted regular garden parties and meetings, while there were outings to more distant parts and annual summer fairs throughout the ’90s… it there was an upside to the battle forced upon the bay and its denizens, it was the strengthening of social ties between a range of people brought together in a common cause.
It is, sadly, a fact of life in our part of the world that the savouring of any victory for the environment is only ever short-lived – there will invariably be another threat rearing its ugly head before very long.
And sure enough, a new road was now proposed, to be built in a similar cutting through the cove next to the hotel.
Another fight, another victory, this time a government inspector throwing out the plans at public inquiry, encouragingly on the grounds of nature conservation.
Encouragingly… and remarkably, as it was the discovery of a rare algae on the cliffs that won the day. Needing the sea splashing on it to ensure its survival, a new road would have jeopardised that process and of course the future of this little-known species.
Again, though, there was soon another plan to be fought, this time for a road tunnel through fields opposite Chilton and emerging on the lower promenade.
The association objected due to the intrusion into the fields and the imposition of traffic on the undercliff, but, as developers and their friends in local government know, if they keep hammering away long enough ultimately the wishes of local people and the value of the environment they seek to protect can be overcome.
Another public inquiry was held, with the result that a publicly-funded tunnel and road to the harbour was to be built.
It was, in a way, a defeat, but the general feeling among residents was that the newly-accepted scheme represented the best of a bad job… certainly Pegwell had escaped the horrors of a road or railway line wrecking its fragile environment.
“It’s absolutely a very special place,” said Eileen. “The wonderful wildlife that’s here and the fact that we have one of the few unspoilt cliff-faces in Thanet… it gives great pleasure to many people.
“The thought of a railway or a road along the bottom of the cliff was dreadful. It wasn’t ideal itself, but we preferred the idea of a tunnel and in the end had to go along with that.
“We weren’t against the port, but we were against developing the bay.”
Today Eileen’s health doesn’t allow her to be involved with the association, but son Chris has inherited her love of Pegwell and an awareness of the fact that its beauty can’t be taken for granted.
“There’s a constant threat,” he said. “There are so many people wanting to do something to the place, wanting to develop it.
“I remember two of our neighbours getting very ill fighting the threat of development – one of them died as a result of the stress of it all.”
So many giving so much for Pegwell, while, aside from the public inquiries and battles with well-heeled developers, there were also any number of minor, unpublicised tussles to be had, as Chris recounts:
“I can recall Mum getting up and racing down the lane every time she heard someone dumping rubbish to give them a mouthful. ‘You can pick that up and take it back where it came from!’ she would tell them.
“She was so well known locally – I remember well the councillor who said ‘You don’t upset Mrs Randall!’.”
The Pegwell association still fights the corner of this wonderful place, but Chris can not help but remark upon a change in both demographic and attitude.
“There are threats to this area as we speak, but also we’ve got so many people from outside buying properties and renting them out to others who might only be here for a short time and are not interested in protecting what we have.”
If the future is, as ever, unclear, one thing is certain: Pegwell needs its district association. Without Eileen, of course, there would be no association… and Pegwell itself would in all probability be a very different, and sorrier, place.
We might also reflect that, without her efforts to foil the misguided efforts  of our local authorities, the Viking ship Hugin would almost certainly not be in its traditional place on Pegwell cliff-top.
That’s a story for another time, but for now we’ll simply pay tribute to a special person who fought for a special place.
Eileen lost Derek, whose role in putting together and distributing the association newsletter should not go without mention, in February 2015 at the age of 88, but her love and passion for Pegwell remains undimmed.
Driftwood has had some important visitors over the years. In September 1940, Winston Churchill arrived with military chiefs to inspect the Pegwell battery as part of his tour of south-east England’s coastal defences.
What this country’s arguably most famous Prime Minister could not have known was that a defensive HQ of a very different kind would one day be established nearby.
It was of course from here that Eileen and Derek Randall led the fight against the ravages of developers who seemingly knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Those who love Pegwell owe Eileen Randall a lot.

Monday, April 23, 2018