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Advice on opposing Gallagher's planning application

Consider and plan your objection to the planning application for Hermitage quarry / Oaken Wood

The Woodland Trust say that "it is really important that you take some time to make your letter individual as this will give it more weight in the decision making process".

We agree.

And although emotion and passion is great, the council will have to decide on the basis of FACTS, not hearsay, or unfounded claims against Gallagher, or Pat Gallagher himself; these damage your case, and ours, not strengthen it.

The more you know about the application, the better.

Request from the 'Save Oaken Wood Action Group'

www.saveoakenwood.co.uk is working closely with the 'Save Oaken Wood Action Group'

The 'Save Oaken Wood Action Group' have asked that you please add the following, to each of your letters:

"I/we fully support the 'Save Oaken Wood Action Group' in their campaign and opposing letter to the KCC."

Raising legitimate objections

PLEASE NOTE: KCC have advised that the effect on house prices is not something that they can consider - so PLEASE do not make this the crux of your argument.

Legitimate reasons to object to an application that may be considered:

  • Loss of amenity
    • and although the contact at KCC felt that there was no right of way over much of the land - its free and open use may mean that users could object on the basis of loss of amenity
  • Noise, dust, odour
  • Vibration
  • Impact on Wildlife
  • Value of Ancient Woodland

The Green Party have written a letter objecting to the application, we have chosen two or three points from each section of their objection, but you can also read the full text here:

  • Economic points raised include:
    • "the application was made prior to the abolishment of the South East Plan Regional Spacial Strategy on 6th July 2010. The planning application draws heavily on the SEP for its economic and strategic justification however these are now highly questionable."
    • "4.7 to 4.9 of the Planning Application deal with the regional requirement for crushed rock, which is clearly the essential economic argument put forward by GAL. The lack of a SEP alone calls the argument into question, however with the drastic reductions in funding for road building schemes and the abolishment of the housing targets across Kent, the demand for aggregates is likely to be
      severely curtailed in the medium term."
  • Ecological points raised include:
    • "3.36 [of the planning application] Claims that “the more hard rock supplied from within the region the closer it is to regional self sufficiency and the more sustainable the mineral supply regime”. This is not a definition of sustainable supply that you will find in any ecological philosophy as any resource that is single use and non-renewable is not sustainable. Making claim to the quarrying of ragstone and aggregate as sustainable is simply false."
    • "4.49 [of the planning application] On alternative sites states: “none were found to provide an acceptable alternative to the proposed extension.” This demonstrates the complete unsustainability of this type of quarrying. By GAL’s own admission there will be a crisis in raw materials in 25 years. Simply providing the quarrying now delays action on finding sustainable alternatives by a generation. Storing this type of problem up for the next generation is unethical and should not be allowed."
  • Environmental points raised include:
    • "5.5 [of the planning application] acknowledges that PPS9: “Ancient woodland is a valuable biodiversity resource both for its diversity of species and for its longevity as woodland. Once lost it cannot be recreated.” Kent County Council and Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) are clear in their statements that Oaken Wood is classified as ‘ancient woodland’, yet GAL in point 5.9 questions the validity of the term ‘ancient woodland’ and whether Oaken Wood meet the criteria."
    • "Environment Statement appendices 3 to 13 were produced by KWT, yet Gallagher Group are listed as a corporate sponsor of KWT. This conflict of interest is not noted in the planning application and GAL should commission further wildlife surveys to ensure that there can be no concerns about the independence of the report."
    • "Even assuming the wildlife surveys are correct, there is a complete disregard to the immediate impact on the fauna in Oaken Wood that the quarrying will have. Simply replacing the coppice with indigenous species will not mitigate for the disruption to the species living in the wood and it will not provide a similar home once the area is replanted."
  • Archeological points raised include:
    • "The desk based survey has identified what is likely to be a late prehistoric or Roman enclosure (OA 102 and 103) . The fact that this monument was identified using LiDAR (a technique which charts topographic variation) necessarily means that the monument is extant as earthworks. This is unusual in Kent and potentially significant. It also suggests that the monument and any associated features could be well preserved. In fact GAL’s own desk based assessment makes the point that the area has not undergone significant mediaeval and post medieval ploughing (4.1.1) as has affected much of Kent’s archaeological remains."
    • "As no other archaeological methods have been used, the potential for archaeological relics that do not exist as earthworks (in fact the vast majority or archaeological relics) remains. It is entirely possible that archaeological remains associated with the monument structure are present but the Impact Assessment has made no effort to discover presence or absence."

There are plenty of resources on the next page, that provide further information.

Have a Plan B

It's all very well to say we don't want the extension to Hermitage Quarry approved, but if Gallagher's application is approved it's critical that you have detailed the fundamental objections you would have - and your preferred approach to lessening their impact.

To give you an idea of the sort of things KCC might consider as part of the planning process, Barming Parish Council stated that they would like to see the following conditions imposed, if the application is approved:

  • Satisfactory safety fencing and signage around the perimeter of the site being worked;
  • Land to be restored to original levels and contours.
  • Monitoring of pace of return of wildlife on the restored land at regular intervals by an independent body such as Kent Wildlife Trust.
  • An appropriate and enforceable S106 agreement to secure the completion of site restoration;
  • Controls over noise and vibrations from the machinery currently 7.00am-5.30pm.
  • No maintenance to be carried out at weekends or bank holidays; week day working hours not to be increased.
  • Strict adherence to weekday working hours
  • Extension of the bund in the corner nearest North Pole Road to further mitigate noise and dust levels and the effects of blasting
  • Increase perimeter stand off from 50 to70 metres to further mitigate noise and dust levels and the effects of blasting
  • Controls over blasting times
  • Monitor and change direction of blasting to reduce air over pressure
  • Delay blasting on cloudy days to reduce air over pressure